13 July 2009

Darwin was a malacologist!

Although I don’t work with freshwater snails and don’t know much about them, I happen to belong to the mailing list of a group of researchers interested in freshwater gastropods of North American (FWGNA) run by Rob Dillon of the College of Charleston. At irregular intervals, Rob e-mails to the group members his always informative and entertaining essays on various aspects of the taxonomy, ecology and biology of North American freshwater gastropods (archive). His essay of 25 February 2009 was about Charles Darwin’s interest in freshwater mollusks. Upon reading Rob’s piece, I remembered this post of mine from 2005 about Darwin’s experiments with land snails when he was trying to understand their dispersal mechanisms.

A few days later, I conceived the idea of combining Rob’s essay with my blog post in one article about Darwin’s work with mollusks in general. Rob liked the idea and I started working on it. I finished the first draft towards the end of March and sent it to Rob. He made some revisions and sent it back to me; I made a few more revisions and then sent the manuscript to Mollusc World, the magazine of the Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

Our joint effort, titled Charles Darwin the malacologist, recently got published in the July issue of Mollusc World. You may download a pdf version of the paper from here.

Darwin was truly a versatile biologist. The scope of his interests and the depths of his knowledge relative to what was known during his time are amazing.


thebutterflydiaries said...

So was Stephen Jay Gould. I remember reading that he did his initial evolutionary on fossil snails.

''Ignorant about gastropoda''


Yes, he worked with Cerion & some other land snail species of the Caribbean Islands.