06 March 2006

Lots of Liguus

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Last Saturday I spent a couple of hours looking thru several lots of the tree snail Liguus fasciatus at the Delaware Museum of Natural History.

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These snails are native to southern Florida, Cuba and Hispaniola. In the U.S. they are considered endangered. In a previous post I told the tale of how a couple of summers ago down in Florida I had to confront hordes of blood-thirsty mosquitos just to take a few pictures of Liguus. Luckily, mosquitos were not a concern at the museum.
The picture on the left shows a big guy from Holguin, Cuba. The museum label identified it as Liguus fasciatus achatinus.

I was specifically looking for scarred shells and I did find several. Below is an example of one specimen that suffered a long break while it was still a juvenile. The blue dotted line is the estimated location of where the lip was before it broke. The area bounded by the blue line and the jagged scar ending at the red arrow is the rebuilt portion of the shell.

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The snail survived partly because it was able to withdraw behind the broken section. This specimen and a few others like it demonstrated to my satisfaction that Liguus fasciatus, like many other land snails, also build their shells larger than their bodies. I have discussed this topic before in this post.

1 comment:

biosparite said...

I have heard that LIGUUS show variations from hammock to hammock and that early collectors, to ensure the exclusivity of their collections, would set fire to the hammocks once they were finished collecting.
On a less grim note, I understand that a Florida fossil club I belong to might someday gain access to a shell pit in the late-Pleistocene Anastasia formation that occasionally produces fossil specimens of LIGUUS.
I am fascinated by gastropods generally but encounter them primarily as fossils. I do have some interesting fossil snail shells of both freshwater and subaerial origin that were washed out into the Gulf of Mexico and then mixed with marine gastropod shells in the early-Pleistocene Bermont formation exposed at the Leisey Shell Pit near Tampa. My oldest fossil snails are replacements composed of pyrite and hyrated iron oxide minerals like limonite from the Upper Ordovician Edinburg formation exposed around Strasburg, VA in the Shenandoah Valley. The shells can be etched out of the limestone with hydrochloric acid.
I'm running on and getting off topic, but at times I have difficulty containing my enthusiasm.