What is the Lake Worth Shell?

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Joined: November 12th, 2005, 10:28 pm

September 3rd, 2010, 2:43 pm #1

Is the Lake Worth shell and the shell reported by Harry Lee in his book Marine Shells of Northeast Florida (2009) C. stearnsii or another shell in the Jaspideus complex?

First, here are photos of the Lake Worth shell:

Next, here is a photo of the shell reported by Harry from NE Florida (Collected off Northeast FL, 85 feet of water in sand pocket on reef approx. 25 miles East of Mayport in 2006. Photo by Charlotte Thorpe.)

The initial general discussion began in response to my request for help on Conch-L identifying the Cone from north Lake Worth photographed by Anne Dupont. As usual the discussion quickly went off in several directions, mostly related to differing species in the "Jaspideus Complex." Following are the comments focused on the above shells.

I had sent the above slide with Anne's and Gustav's photos to Bill Fenzan for an opinion and he opined:

"In my opinion, the shells in both Gustav's photo and Anne's photo log you sent are most probably a live-taken specimen of what Ed Petuch named C. pfleugeri in 2004. My current belief is that a larger example of the same Lake Worth population was previously named C. lymani Clench, 1942. C. lymani was originally described as C. bermudensis lymani, even though the Lake Worth shells are very different from material collected off Bermuda. Later, both names (bermudensis and lymani) were placed by many authors in the synonomy of C. mindanus Hwass in Bruguière, 1792. So, I believe that these photos illustrate localized specimens of C. mindanus. I have asked some friends to look into this idea, but they have not reported back to me on their opinion."

8/24 After I put several comments and photos together and posted a link on Conch-L, Bill Fenzan further commented in part from a longer reply to the discussion of the jaspideus complex:

“You have put together an interesting article on these puzzling small cones that keeps getting better. It is surprising that we know so little about cones that are found in so many collections. Some additional questions and comment:

I observe that the Lake Worth cone photographed by Gustav Pauley seems to have a white animal with some black streaking. The color photo of a specimen labeled as "Conus jaspideus stearnsii Conrad, 1869" (figure 627) in Harry Lee's book shows a black animal. Is the collecting locality for the specimen illustrated in figure 627 one of the Mayport, Florida locations listed in the text, or is this shell from another locality?

I hope your study will encourage others to report more information.”
(I hope so too.)

I responded to Bill in part with:

"Harry will probably confirm that his book only presents material collected in the waters of Nassau, Duval and St. Johns counties.”

In the mean time, from the halls of the Harvard University Museum of Comparative Zoology where he was visiting, Harry Lee wrote:

“Dear Bill and other coalition members,

The question as to origin of the topical specimen is a good one.

I strived to use locally-collected material for all the figures in my book, but there were instances among the B&W in which I had to settle for extralimital material (mostly related to specimen quality). For the color images there are also a few exceptions. As indicated in the forepp., Charlotte Thorpe took a majority of the color photographs, including the topical figure.

I'll Cc this to the eminent photographer, and thereby request a report of her record of this cone snail's provenance.”
(Note: Harry’s book is Marine Shells of Northeast Florida)

8/25 Charlotte Thorpe wrote to provide the information regarding her photo of C. Stearnsii in Harry’s:

“Dear Harry and other members,

The image of Conus jaspideus stearnsii Conrad, 1869 is from offshore of Northeast Fl. It was collected in 85 feet of water in sand pocket on reef approx. 25 miles East of Mayport in 2006. Photo attached.”

8/26 John Tucker reported his statistical analysis of the Jaspideus Complex shells in his collection (555 specimens he classified as Jaspideus complex shells). It included a significant sample of Florida shells. He interpreted his findings in part as to whether or not shell width and spire height adjusted for shell length would identify a statistically significant distribution of differing populations. He concluded “only populations can be identified.” And, on a population basis he did find shell width differences between the Florida Gulf coast, Keys and Atlantic coast shells; some statistically so. His major conclusion was “It is my opinion that J. j. stearnsi is restricted to Florida's Gulf Coast. It can be identified as a relatively narrow bodied, tall spired shell.” John’s conclusion would indicate that the problematic shells in this topic are not C. stearnsii. However, John did not include photos of the Florida east coast shells in his study, so we have no indication of their similarity to the problematic shells of this topic or what species/subspecies/form they might be, since John grouped all the shells under the label “Jaspideus.”

CLICK HERE to read John’s entire analysis and discussion.

I need to comment here that in addition to assigning the name Conus stearnsii to the shell from NE Florida, Harry Lee also assigns this name to the above pictured shells from Lake Worth. I had previously also adopted this name for the Lake Worth shells. However, since engaging in the discussion of the jaspideus complex, I doubt these shells from Florida's east coast are C. stearnsii. This topic discussion is focused on the Lake Worth shells. So, in hopes others will express opinions on the Lake Worth shell, I will post below additional photos of the Cones we find at Lake Worth.

This first slide compares the Lake Worth to a C. stearnsii from west Florida and was developed when I believed the Lake Worth shell could be this species.

9/22/10 I posted the following slides presenting more Lake Worth shells and posted a notice on Conch-L:

"Well, it’s been about a month since I posted about the Jaspideus shells. The Lake Worth shell(s) are still a puzzle. Raining today. So, some time for photos. I took more photos of the Cone we’re finding at Lake Worth and thought they might stir up some more opinions. Leading candidates seem to be:

C. stearnsii
C. pfleugeri (synonym of C. mindanus)
C. mindanus
C. none of the above"

9/25/10 John Tucker offered:

"I still think they are mindanus. If you want a subspecies name for them then lymani would be correct."

10/1/16 Carole Marshall wrote:

"Marlo, in your presentation there is mention of Conus lymani and I thought I would send on the photo I took of the holotype at UF. Hopefully, someday the name on Anne's shell will be resolved. So, here is the photo of UF Conus bermudenses lymani Clench, 1942. The holotype was collected S. Lake Worth, 150 feet off Nellier Pt. by Vera Lyman 25 May, 1939. It was synomymized with Conus mindanus Hwass, 1792. ( I don't know much about Cones, but I doubt the synonymy should have occurred).
Just a little to add to the discussion."


Anne DuPont
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Anne DuPont
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Joined: August 29th, 2014, 12:30 pm

October 1st, 2016, 4:59 pm #2

Lake Worth Lagoon Cone shell

This Week I photographed on a night dive, several cone shells in Lake Worth Lagoon, they were less than one inch long. I am wondering about the difference between C jaspideus and Japidiconus pfluegeri. Here are photos of the specimens photographed Sep 29, 2016.

Cone 1

Cone 2

Cone 3

Cone 4

Cone 5

Cone 6

Cone 7

Marlo: Note in discussion above that Bill Fenzan and John Tucker both suggest these are C. mindanus Hwass in Bruguière, 1792 and that J. pfluegeri is a synonym.

Link to this post was posted to Conch-L Oct 4, 2016. Some replies:

Andre Poremski:

" Jaspidiconus pfleugeri description matches these shells to the T.

I agree that the validity of J. pfleugeri needs to be further substantiated by DNA work, sampling the Lake Worth population, as well as the many adjacent populations within the jaspideus complex (fluviamaris, mindanus, vanhyningi, pealii, stearnsi). We've already started this.

Shell morphology is not going to help much to reach absolute consensus. It's a starting point and I wouldn't be so quick to synonymize with mindanus. In my own field experience, collecting these cones all over the Caribbean, mindanus does not live in a silty-grass habitat like the Lake Worth cones. Anyway, I wouldn't be surprised if we are dealing with less or more Florida jaspideus-like species than presently named. More work is needed.

Some additional photos of J. pfleugeri:


Photos of other Jaspidiconus:


Harry Lee:

"Except for the one identified as Jaspidiconus mindanus, I think we're looking at a rather homogeneous species in your webfeature.

I'm beginning to think that we have the same species in NE FL, and it may be the only J. species in our fauna; see Charlotte Thorpe's image, which you included. The color patters of all the animals of which you provided images is actually very similar - just quantitative variation in the white and black (most notably the dominance of the latter in Charlotte's specimen). I don't think reliance on this character is going to help. John Tucker's painstaking morphometry (link provided by you) has disabused me of my original Conus jaspideus stearnsii Conrad, 1869 (Lee, 2009: 129, species 627; color plate 16, fig. 627), which nominal taxon may, however, have a subspecific relationship with the topical critter.

Have you located/considered presenting the original description and original figure(s) of J. pfluegeri Petuch, 2004, which, while maybe an invalid nominal taxon, is very likely this (sub)species since it's type locality is sympatric/-topic with most of the specimens you present? Further support of this identity is provided by Kohn (2014: pl. 8, figs. 16, 17; AMNH 308069), which illustrates the holotype, and, like a paratype (Idem: figs. 14, 14; AMNH 308071) - virtual dead ringers for many of your figured specimens.

With the possible exception of Conus mindanus Hwass in Bruguière, 1792, which may have a distinctive protoconch (vide Kohn, 2014: pl. 11, figs. 15, 16), all the candidate taxa in Jaspidiconus (and several other genus-level taxa in FL waters) appear to have lecithotrophic protoconchs, implying crawl-away spawn and limited powers of zoogeographic dispersal. Such a life-style often leads to significant vicariance (gene pools with limited connectivity and morphological divergence), which, kindled with a modicum of hot air (including my expiration), fuels this discussion. Despite its proliferation, I am rather disappointed that the conological literature includes very little treatment of this conchological feature. Later today, maybe webmaster Bill Frank will be able to post some SEM's at http://jaxshells.org/ to illuminate this feature.

Lee, H.G., 2009. Marine Shells of Northeast Florida. Jacksonville Shell Club, Inc. 204 pp. + 19 color plates. 28 May.
Kohn, A.J., 2014. Conus of the southeastern United States and Caribbean. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. -xiii + [1]-457 + .
Petuch, E.J., 2004. Cenozoic Seas. CRC Press: Boca Raton. xvi + 308 pp. before 17 Feb."

OK, Harry. Here it is:


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Joined: July 24th, 2007, 4:44 pm

October 24th, 2016, 4:30 pm #3

Here is the URL for the sampler of FL conid protoconchs.