Tag Archives: venezuela

New regional study from Venezuela

Recently published: a new paper by Bello-Pulido & Agudo-Padron on the regional malacofauna of northeastern Venezuela. “Although the continental fauna of the Araya Peninsula is considered one of the best documented in the arid zones of Sucre state, the bibliographic record of the diversity of non-marine molluscs is practically non-existent, for this reason the Ecological Research Center of Guayacán (Venezuela) and the Projeto Avulsos Malacológicos (Brazil) recorded samples of terrestrial and freshwater molluscs, fossils, sub-fossils and recent at 80 sampling points in different serum environments during the 2010-2012 and 2017-2018 periods. As a result, 18 species belonging to the Gastropoda class were recorded, distributed in 16 genus and 12 families, represented by 15 native and three introduced species; 14 terrestrial and four freshwater species. The trophophilous forests, xerophilous shrubs and temporary runoffs, housed the largest number of species, followed by temporary lagoons and urban areas. Twelve mollusk species (not invasive) are no longer part of the living fauna and the remaining still persist as a surviving faunistic elements“.

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This is a Spanish publication in a journal that is not readily available, so I am also presenting here the species list.

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There are a few spurious things in the list above (e.g. ‘Kobelt & Schwanheim, 1912’ needs to be Kobelt, 1912 as Schwanheim was the place where he lived; Oxystyla is a junior synonym of Orthalicus, etc.), but as such this is a useful paper given the scanty information that is available on Venezuelan continental species, most literature being > 100 years old.

Bello-Pulido, J.A. & Agudo-Padrón, A.I. 2019*. Aproximación al conocimiento de la malacofauna continental de la Península de Araya, Estado Sucre, Venezuela Nororiental. Boletin del Instituto Oceanográfico de Venezuela 58(1): 29-41.

New Pantepui Plekocheilus

Freshly pressed: a paper with additional data on snails from the Eastern Pantepui region, with description of 3 new species. “Recent visits by a herpetologist to hitherto unexplored or ill–explored tepuis in the Pantepui area of Venezuela reveal three new species: Plekocheilus (P.) sanderi, P. (Eurytus) annetae, and P. (E.) timoi. This brings the total number of recognised species in the Pantepui to 27 land snails, of which 23 belong to the dominating superfamily Orthalicoidea“.



Breure, A.S.H., 2020. Additional data on Eastern Pantepui Orthalicoidea land snails (Mollusca, Gastropoda). – Journal of Conchology 43(5): 481-496.

New Granada

Working on a paper related to Colombian Drymaeus reveals some well-known puzzles about old localities who have not been traced again. In fact, the denomination of the area as “New Grenada” is somewhat of a puzzle, as the meaning of that terminology has shifted over time.
Just out of curiosity, I searched for pictures on “New Grenada” in Google. I found a few, and the shift in what has to be called “New Grenada” is clearly illustrated in the following time-series.


Map of New Grenada
Author: John Pilkerton, 1811. Scale 1:3,400,000. Publshers: Cadell & Davies; Longman, Hurst, Rees, Ome & Brown, London



Map of the Kingdom of New Grenada
Author: Hall Sidney, 1827. Scale 1:5,700,000. Publisher: Caddell, London.



Map of Venezuela, New Grenada & Equador
Author: Henny Tanner, 1836. Scale 1:6,969,600. Publisher: H.S. Tanner, Philadelphia

The first map shows that New Grenada at one time reached the borders of the Río Marañon, now in the territory of Perú. The last map is especially interesting, since it depicts the situation at the time from which many type material originate, that can still be found in museum collections. What struck me is the very different limitation of the ‘Provinces” or “Departments”. Colombia consisted in the mid-19th century of four parts: Cauca, Cundinamarca, Magdalena and Boyacá. Their geographical limits are, however, rather different from their current, being far more extensive. When interpreting old locality labels this knowledge can be very helpful to pinpoint certain places, which might not be located where one would expect them with today’s map in front.

Just an example of some puzzles that I consider solved, where some geographical knowledge and modern facilities go hand in hand. One of the collectors who travelled extensively through Colombia at that time was Thomas Bland (1809-1885). Many of his collected material was studied by Pilsbry during his work for the Manual of Conchology. But quite often modern authors may be puzzled about some of the places that were visited by Bland.
There were three Drymaeus species with localities originating from Bland that, at first, I was unable to locate. “Between Salamina and Cabuyal, west of Ervé” was one of them, a locality reported for D. bogotensis (Pfeiffer). I looked up Ervé in the GNS gazetteer but nothing turned up. On the other hand, Salamina and Cabuyal – though not sounding like common names – turned up many times from different parts of Colombia. I decided to leave it and went on with my revision.
Another puzzling locality was “near Santa Ana”, type locality of D. decoratus goniobasis Pilsbry, based on material collected by Bland. When I looked up “Santa Ana” in the gazetteer, many places of that name turned up from all over the country.
Finally, I came to D. geometricus (Pfeiffer), for which Pilsbry had another locality from Bland: “Forests in the mountains below Ervé, on the road to Santa Ana”. I’m unaware if there has anything been published about the journeys of Bland in Colombia, but now I had three parts of a puzzle and I decided to find some solution. First the place “Ervé”. This is a highly unusual spelling in Spanish, so it could be phonetical. I decided to look for “erve” in the GNS database, but not with “starts with” option enabled, but with the “contains” option instead. It turned up 6 names, of which 3 could be skipped right away. I ended up with “Páramo de Herveo” and two variants of the populated place “Herveo”, all at or very close to 05° 05′ 00″ N 075° 10′ 00″ W, which is in Dept. Tolima. The first puzzle bit was in place.
The next step was to find Santa Ana, which could not be far away. When I scrutinized the list of names I did not find a place with a modern name that seemed logical to me. Then I was struck by the name Falán in the list, with a variant name Santa Ana, and located 25 km ENE of Herveo. That seemed logical to me, both places are in the region of Fresno in the upper Magdalena valley, from which the species have been reported.
Then finally Salamina and Cabuyal. With the location of Herveo in mind I looked through all the records for these names in the GNS gazetteer. Salamina is in Dept. Caldas, nearly 50 km NW of Herveo. And there is a “Quebrada Cabuyal” in Tolima, 60 km SE of Herveo. Both places are marked with red in the map below, while the three localties of the Drymaeus species mentioned are marked with yellow. Three species finally found their home.


This post was originally published in my previous blog in November 2007; thanks to the WaybackMachine I’m able to re-publish it here.

Veronicellids recharacterised

Just published: a paper by Rocha & D’ávila on the Veronicellid genera Latipes and Angustipes.

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Their abstract is “The genera Angustipes Colosi, 1922 and Latipes Colosi, 1922 were originally proposed as “groups” within the genus Vaginulus Ferrussac, 1822, and since their establishment they have been variously considered valid or invalid until they gained the ultimate status of genus. The descriptions of both genera are general and broadly inclusive, and this fact has complicated taxonomic recognition. Additionally, incomplete descriptions and difficult identification of characteristics in the name-bearing type specimens demonstrate the need to revisit the species and revise the two genera. Herein, we broaden the description of Latipes erinaceus Colosi, 1922 with respect to the circulatory system, the radula, the jaw, the position of entry of the ligation duct in the bursa copulatrix in relation to the canal of the bursa, the origin of the muscle of the penial gland, along with the morphometric characteristics of the phallus, the penial gland, the pedal gland, and the bursa copulatrix. We also propose new differential diagnoses for the genera Angustipes and Latipes, limited to the essential characteristics that enable taxonomic recognition. Hence, we propose the assignment of the species L. erinaceus, Latipes rosilus (Thiele, 1927), Latipes ribeirensis (Thiele, 1927), and Latipes absumptus (Colosi, 1921) to the genus Angustipes, based on the presence of morpho- logical characteristics attributable to this genus, such as the phallus being short and conical; the bursa copulatrix being sessile or short, and lacking a head; the ligation duct inserted near the canal of the bursa; as well as on the similarity in phallus morphology with Angustipes difficilis Colosi, 1922, the type species of this genus“.

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The family Veronicellidae is notoriously enigmatic due to the need to use anatomical charcters for classification. This paper is thus a welcome addition to the literature of this family.
Rocha, C.A. & D’ávila, S., 2019. New Morphological Characterization of Latipes erinaceus (Gastropoda, Veronicellidae), Differential Diagnosis for the Genera Angustipes and Latipes, and Novel Combinations for Species of Latipes. – Zoological Science (Tokyo), 36 (3):231-241.

Pantepui snails

Just published: a chapter on the land snails of the Venezuelan Pantepui region. It is a slightly updated summary of what was published some years ago, while in the meantime only slight progress was made.

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For the species reported hitherto from this area the taxonomy is summarised, and data on the ecology and biogeography is presented.

The rest of the book presents a lot of information on this interesting area of South America, both general and on the flora and fauna. The illustrations are plentiful and often spectacular.

Breure, A.S.H., 2019. Land snails: an updated summary: 247-261. — In: Rull, V., Vegas-Villarrúbia, T., Huber, O. & Señaris, C. (eds.) Biodiversity of Pantepui: the pristine ‘Lost World’ of the Neotropical Guayana Highlands. Academic Press, Cambridge

Why photo identifications remain tricky

With the increasing ease for using social media, a larger group of people become interested in putting a name to a shell. Some call this ‘citizen science’ as they think it is a means to involve the interested general public with e.g. taxonomic work. Others see it as a harmless pastime that nobody bothers. I think neither of the two is correct.

Internet can be a great help and for taxonomy it definitely is a great resource. Think alone of the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), where a multitude of sources are becoming available and are made accessible for everyone. The means are there but does this mean that everybody can pick up a shell and compare it to literature found on the internet without good knowledge of the group concerned and the relevant area? I have strong doubts.

There are a lot of pictures of snails and shells on the internet with a proper locality. However, a specific locality alone does not qualify for a proper identification. Often characteristics of the species are concealed in the picture and different views are needed to know which species (singular or plural) might be concerned. Many times photos are good enough for making a correct guess of the genus concerned, but inadequate for a correct identification at the species level. Either because the photographer didn’t take the view(s) needed for a good comparison with figures in the literature, or the specimen wasn’t full-grown which prevents from showing the required characteristics needed for a correct identification.

My basic stand is field photographs are unsuitable for identifications, unless 1) full details are available on the locality and habitat, 2) proper care has been taken to photograph the shell (or snail) from such sides that all characteristics for identification are visible. Two caveat are immediately clear here: if the animal is still present it may obscure some of the characteristics needed for identification, and it may need a basic knowledge of the family concerned to know which views are needed to enable a specialist to put a name to a shell.
Thus the baseline is: photo identifications remain tricky, and personally I’m especially wary when it comes to lesser known species or species from lesser known areas.

This having said, today an example from Venezuela. It is taken from the blogpost of Ignacio Agudo-Patron who, if I’m correctly following the links, did not have the shell at hand himself but has put a name to pictures taken by one of his ‘Facebook friends’.


On first view this looks reassuring: a rather specific locality (“San Juan”, Dept. Sucre, Venezuela) and specific habitat information (premontane humid forest). There is even a reference to literature (my 2009 paper on the snail fauna of Venezuelan Guayana). Under the pictures in the blogpost is the identification “Plekocheilus (Eudolichotis) sp.”, which seems proper to me. However, the summary page of his post gives as identification “Plekocheilus (Eudolichotis) aff. gibber (Oberwimmer, 1931)”. While these pictures were taken in northern Venezuela at relatively low altitude, Oberwimmer’s taxon lives in southern Venezuela at more than 2000 m. It seems totally implausible to me that these pictures represent this species. Instead I think it is one of the coastal area species (P. (E.) distortus, and its allies) which are currently insufficiently known in their variation, distribution and relationships to allow a quick-and-dirty identification via photographs. After all, despite some scant literature, Venezuela is still one of the lesser-known areas in the Neotropics when it comes to snails.

A new Tudora from Venezuela

In the most recent number of Basteria Hovestadt published a short paper on the Peninsula de Paraguaná in Venezuela, describing a new Annulariid species: Tudora paraguanensis. The new species is the first record of Tudora from the South American mainland, and although the collected specimens are regarded as ‘subfossil’, it cannot be excluded that the finding of living specimens is possible.


Hovestadt, A. A new Tudora (Gastropoda, Hypsogastropoda, Annulariidae) from Peninsula de Paraguaná, Venezuela. – Basteria, 80:149-151.

Venezuelan land snails

The following report was found on Facebook, with land snails data from NE Venezuela, a region for which hardly reliable data exist in literature.


foto van Ignacio Agudo.
foto van Ignacio Agudo.
foto van Ignacio Agudo.

Ignacio Agudo aan Moluscos del Caribe/ Moluscos do Caribe/ Caribbean Mollusks


Total of seventeen (17) verified species (thirteen (13) terrestrial — two (2) non-native/ exotic — and four (4) freshwater forms — one non-native/ exotic), found in “xerophytic environments” of the parish until “December 2016”, distributed in fourteen (14) genus and nine (9) families.

Important to highlight that, in addition to the three (3) other specifically native aquatic/ limnic forms, all the thirteen (13) native terrestrial species so far detected in the region “contradictorily” correspond to own forms of environments/ humid forest ecosystems ……….


– Family HELICINIDAE Férussac, 1822
Helicina tamsiana (Pfeiffer, 1850)

– Family NEOCYCLOTIDAE Kobelt & Möllendorff, 1897
Poteria fasciatum (Kobelt & Schwanheim, 1912)

– Family AMPULLARIIDAE Gray, 1824
Pomacea glauca (Linnaeus, 1758)
Marisa cornuarietis (Linnaeus, 1758)

– Family LYMNAEIDAE Rafinesque, 1815
Pseudosuccinea columella (Say, 1817)

– Family PLANORBIDAE Rafinesque, 1815
Drepanotrema lucidum (Pfeiffer, 1839)

– Family ORTHALICIDAE Albers, 1860
Bulimulus cacticolus (Reeve, 1849)
Bulimulus constrictus Pfeiffer, 1841)
Bulimulus krebsianus Pilsbry, 1897
Drymaeus multilineatus (Say, 1825)
Oxystyla abducta (Shuttleworth, 1856)
Oxystyla maracaibensis (Pfeiffer, 1899)
Plekocheilus (Eudolichotis) distortus (Bruguière, 1789)

– Family ODONTOSTOMIDAE Pilsbry & Vanatta, 1898
Biotocus (- Tomigerus) cumingi (Pfeiffer, 1849) [according to Simone, 2006: Biotocus cumingi]

– Family SUBULINIDAE Fischer & Crosse, 1877
Beckianum beckianum (Pfeiffer, 1846)
Subulina octona (Bruguière, 1798)

– Family ACHATINIDAE Swainson, 1840
Achatina (Lissachatina) fulica (Bowdich, 1822)

The adjective ‘native’ which is used here, should be considered with care. E.g., the Subulinid and Achatinid species have been introduced, and also Drymaeus multilineatus has probably been introduced in the past. The list contains thus several species which originate from elsewhere, which is no big surprise as the locality is at the coast.

Apart from some minor errors (Bulimulus and Drymaeus belong to the family Bulimulidae; Oxystyla should be Orthalicus, abducta = obductus), this is information from a country with comparably hardly good information in the malacological literature.

Photo of the day (149): Plekocheilus

Philippe Kok very kindly shared some additional photographs of living Plekocheilus snails from tepuis in Venezuelan Guayana.

The first picture was taken at night on Auyán-tepui in the Chimantá massif. It is a very yellow coloured specimen of P. (Eurytus) mundiperditi Haas, 1955. This species is well known from this area and may be found on several of the tepuis in this massif.

The second snail was found on Uei-tepui, also known as Cerro El Sol, an isolated mountain-top south-east of Roraima. This tepui was hitherto malacologically terra incognita, but the photo is interesting in several aspects. First, this appears to be P. (E.) sophiae Breure, 2009, which was until now only known from Yuruani-tepui, NW of Roraima. Secondly, this shell has had a severe ‘life accident’ as shown by the upper part of the last whorl near the peristome; looks like a repaired shell after a predator attack (mammal??). Finally, the colour pattern at the penultimate whorl is peculiar (lighter and darker spiral bands), but has been observed in other species as well; this may be due to either a genetic defect regulating the colour pattern genes or may have been induced by another damage of the shell (on the side not shown here).

More information on this group may be found via this link: http://bit.ly/IOYgok

Plekocheilus mundiperditi Plekocheilus sophiae

Venezuelan tepuis – their caves and biota

The Venezuelan tepuis have long been a mysterious place and geologists only recently have begun to explore the caves inside these mountains made up by sandstones. Some years ago geologists and speleologists from Czech and Slovakia set out to Chimantá massif, together with local counterparts. They explored the immense caves that are present and brought several novelties for science home. Among them some snails, collected on special request.

Now the scientific results have been compiled in a book: Venezuelan tepuis – their caves and biota (Aubrecht et al., 2012). Originally scheduled for end 2011, officially dated for 2012, it only now appears in 2013. Thanks to the determined editors, Roman Aubrecht and Jan Schögl, they succeeded in the end. A paper version of the book will appear “later (perhaps in March)“.
This book contains parts on Cave systems in Churí and Roraima tepuis, and Faunistical investigations of Pantepui biogeographical region. The chapter on the malacofauna is a review of all known species, with new data on the anatomy of some and phylogenetic results on Plekocheilus species.
My contribution on the malacofauna is slightly ‘outdated’ (so to speak); my recent paper published in Basteria (Breure, 2012) was written after the deadline for this book was closed. And another paper is in the pipeline. This subject remains intriguing for me…

Aubrecht, R., Barrio-Amorés, C.L., Breure, A.S.H., Brewer-Carías, C., Derka, T., Fuentes-Ramos, O.A., Gregor, M., Kodada, J., Kovácik, L., Lánczos, T., Lee, N.M., Liscák, P., Schlögl, J., Smida, B. & Vlcek, L., 2012 [2013]. Venezuelan tepuis – their caves and biota. – Acta Geologica Slovaca, Monograph, Comenius University, Bratislava: pp. 1-168. Available at http://geopaleo.fns.uniba.sk/ageos/archive/monograph/aubrecht_et_al_2012_monograph.pdf (NB: 163 Mb).
Breure, A.S.H., 2012. Living in isolation: Plekocheilus (P.) philippei spec.nov. from Venezuelan Guayana (Gastropoda, Amphibulimidae). – Basteria 76: 101-106.