26 September 2007

A thesis on Truncatella

The snails in the genus Truncatella appear to have evolved from marine ancestors to become terrestrial relatively recently on the geologic time scale. They have not ventured far from their ancestral home, for most species still live right at the edge of the sea where they frequently get covered by the waves. They were the subjects of 2 previous posts here and here.

There are several species in the genus and more research about their ecology and biology will certainly lead to a better understanding of how marine snails first became terrestrial. For whatever reasons, however, not many malacologists have been interested in them.

One malacologist who studied the Truncatella species of Florida and the Caribbean for his PhD thesis back in the late 1960s was Landon Ross. In a recent e-mail, he explained that as soon as he got his PhD in 1969 he switched to environmental science and never published anything from his dissertation. His only published contribution to the study of Truncatella was a short note: Ross, L.T. 1969. Notes on the life history of Truncatella caribaeensis. American Malacological Union Annual Reports for 1969 pp. 35-36.

Landon Ross just put up his entire dissertation on the Internet. It is a 25 MB pdf file, but worth downloading, if you are interested in Truncatella, because there is a lot of useful information not available elsewhere. However, be careful with the taxonomy, because getting the identities and the correct names of some of the species is tricky. Consult the following for more recent information: Rosenberg, G. 1996. Independent evolution of terrestriality in Atlantic truncatellid gastropods. Evolution 50:682-693.

1 comment:

Christopher Taylor said...

...be careful with the taxonomy...

Especially as any new taxa or taxonomic revisions in the thesis won't have been validly published and so have no formal status. Just a quick caveat!