Non-Muricids: Chipola Formation Turbos

These are two of my favorite species from the Chipola Formation, perhaps because they are both relatively rare and it took me several years (and many collecting trips) to find specimens for my own collection. Nonetheless, all of the specimens I have were collected in only two trips!

Both species of Turbo found in the Chipola Formation appear to be limited to coral reef deposits, and in fact, all of the specimens shown below were collected in the offshore patch reef facies.

Turbo (Halopsephus?) chipolanus Schmelz, 1995 is the more common species, with 9 specimens in the type lot (7 from TU 555 on the Chipola River, and 2 from TU 1048 along Farley Creek). Schmelz considered this species most similar to the rare Recent species, Turbo haraldi Robertson, 1957. I have 4 specimens of this species in my collection, 3 of which are shown below. They measure from 15mm to 23 mm in height, in line with the material in the type lot.

Turbo chipolanus Schmelz, 1995

Turbo (Taeneaturbo) pactilis Schmelz, 1995 is my favorite species, due to both its size and rarity. The type lot contains one complete specimen from TU 555 on the Chipola River, one incomplete specimen from TU 547 on the Chipola River, and 3 fragments from TU 1048 along Farley Creek. Schmelz compared this species to Turbo dominicensis Gabb, 1873 from the Cercado Formation of the Dominican Republic, as well as the Recent species, Turbo canaliculatus Hermann, 1781. I have only one specimen of this species in my collection, but as you can see, it is much larger than the holotype (45mm versus 27mm in height) and in almost perfect condition.

Turbo pactilis Schmelz, 1995


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Name That Shell, Part 10 (Miocene of Java)

Here’s a good one for the Recent muricid collectors out there, as well as fossil collectors from the Indo-Pacific region.

This small specimen is from the Miocene of West Java, Indonesia (Nyalindung, Sukabumi). I couldn’t find anything resembling it in the current version of my Fossil Muricidae Worldwide Checklist keyword search. To me, it looks more like an ergalataxine than a muricopsine. Unfortunately, it is somewhat worn, and the aperture isn’t complete.

Any ideas? I’d also appreciate any information on good — recent — literature sources for information on the Miocene of Java, Indonesia, since I have several other unidentified shells from here.


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“Fossil Finders Documentary”

Just ran across this video made by 3 budding paleontologists while searching through YouTube, and thought it was cute. Hope you all enjoy it!

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Posted by on April 2, 2011 in Random Musings



Latest Database Updates: Chicoreus, Phyllonotus, Siratus, Haustellum, Vokesimurex, & Bolinus

OK, I’m finally doing it. I’ve resisted for years, but Merle et al.’s new book is forcing me into it. Specifically, recognizing the elevation of Phyllonotus and Siratus to full generic status. As well as Vokesimurex and Bolinus (formerly considered subgenera of Haustellum). And accepting the subgenus Triplex for all fossil species in the Western Atlantic previously referred to Chicoreus s.s.

I know I’m stubborn. After all, Dr. Edward Petuch elevated Phyllonotus and Vokesimurex, as well as many other muricid subgenera, to full generic status many, many years ago. But quite honestly, I never pay much attention to what Dr. Petuch does. Because hardly any of his generic reassignments come with any written justification whatsoever. And I like a bit of evidence that I can weigh before rearranging everything in my collection based on one man’s unsupported opinion.

But my two visits to the Florida Museum of Natural History over the last year have forced the issue. FLMNH has recently moved toward updating their collection database to elevate both Phyllonotus and Siratus from being subgenera of Chicoreus to being full-fledged genera. Their decision is in part supported by the taxonomy used by Malacolog.

However, I still resisted, wanting more solid reasons for making the change in my own collection database. Merle et al. have helped me along the way to finding much of that justification. While I don’t repeat their reasons here, I do point you to the relevant pages of their new book, so that you can do the research for yourself.

  • Chicoreus (s.s.) and Chicoreus (Triplex) — I have long deferred to Dr. Emily Vokes’ work in resisting the move to C. (Triplex) for my specimens from outside the Indo-Pacific region. But she has been retired for quite some time now, so I need to “get with the program.” You can find a thorough discussion of Chicoreus s.s. in Merle et al. (2011), pages 91-94, and a discussion of C. (Triplex) in the same book, pages 100-105. References are also provided to Houart’s original work on both subgenera, with which Dr. Vokes had originally found unconvincing for the Western Atlantic species. To sum it up, all fossil species of Chicoreus found in the Western Atlantic region now belong in C. (Triplex), according to both Houart and Merle et al.
  • Siratus and Vokesimurex Siratus and Vokesimurex have closely related sculptural patterns (see Merle et al.’s book, page 72, for details), which “easily distinguish” them from Chicoreus. The relationship between Siratus and Vokesimurex, and their distinction from Chicoreus, is also supported by molecular data (see Barco et al., 2010).
  • Phyllonotus — see Merle et al. (2011), pages 114-117 for a discussion of the genus.
  • Haustellum and Bolinus — The differences between Murex, Haustellum, Siratus, and Bolinus have been discussed at length in the past. However, my database retained Bolinus as a subgenus of Haustellum until today. Merle et al. discuss how Bolinus differs from these other genera on page 76 of their new book.

My Fossil Muricidae database is now updated, based on the generic assignments and species lists used in Merle et al.’s book. To see only a list of the database records that have changed, please visit this page. In future blog posts, I will discuss some species associated with the above genera individually, because they have synonymized quite a few European fossil species, and also reassigned a few Western Atlantic fossil species in ways with which I don’t agree.


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We’re Getting a Facelift!

Figured it was time to get a more colorful blog theme. Currently torn between University of Georgia colors (red/black) and Seattle Slew racing silks colors (black/yellow). UGA is winning at the moment. 🙂 Hope you like the new layout!

Also, the time has finally come to split out my interests in both fossil collecting and horse racing, and to focus THIS blog exclusively on the former. For up-to-date photos of my racing excursions, please visit my Flickr site. Thanks!

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Posted by on March 27, 2011 in Random Musings


Review of Merle et al: Calotrophon, Panamurex, and Acantholabia

This is the first of many reviews of the new book, Fossil and Recent Muricidae of the World: Part Muricinae. Today, I begin with a brief discussion of the authors’ views on species formerly classified by Emily Vokes as belonging to the genera Calotrophon, Poirieria (Panamurex), and Acantholabia.

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Horse Racing Photography

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos while at the Florida Museum of Natural History over spring break, but I figured I would share some of my favorite photos from my trip to Tampa Bay Downs, as well as Laurel Park’s “Racing 101 Day at the Races,” over the same time period. I just bought a Canon 450D DSLR camera in January, with a Sigma 50-200mm telephoto lens, and have really enjoyed learning how to use it. I really wish I’d had it for all those big horse races I attended last year, including the Triple Crown and Breeder’s Cup! You can view my full racing albums on Flickr.

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Posted by on March 25, 2011 in At the Races


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