Belocaulus angustipes (Heynemann, 1885) Black-velvet Leatherleaf Page Two

   In the March, 2009 issue of "American Conchologist" information was published concerning the synonymy of Belocaulus angustipes (Walls, 2009) so Dr. Harry G. Lee investigated the nomenclatorial and taxonomic history of the Black-velvet Leatherleaf.

    In virtually all the U.S. literature, this slug has been identified as Veronicella ameghini Gambetta, 1923 and placed in the genus Angustipes Colosi, 1922, thus being cited as Angustipes ameghini (Gambetta, 1923). This identification is correct, but recent work (Thomé, 1989, Thomé et al., 1997) has determined that this taxon is a junior synonym of Vaginula angustipes Heynemann, 1885 (p. 276). Further, these workers have revised the generic placement of this Leatherleaf slug.

    Understanding the definitions of candidate genera requires close attention to the literature. The genus Angustipes Colosi (1922: 486) would seem to be the appropriate placement for a Leatherleaf slug with the species-level epithet "angustipes." This is because of Article 68.4 of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN, 1999), which reads: " If a valid species-group name, or its cited synonym, originally included in a nominal genus-group taxon is identical with the name of that taxon, the nominal species denoted by that specific name (if available) is the type species (type species by absolute tautonymy)."  However, Colosi did not mention Vaginula angustipes Heynemann, 1885, 276) in his description of the new genus Angustipes! Seeing this oversight, Baker (1925: 15) designated Vaginula difficilis Colosi (1921: 158) from Tucuman, Argentina as the type of that genus. He went on (Baker, 1925: 16) and designated Vaginula angustipes Heynemann, 1885 from Taguara, Brazil as the type of Belocaulus Hoffmann (1925: 198).

    Thus, to the extent that Angustipes Colosi and Belocaulus Hoffmann are distinct at the full generic level, the species Vaginula angustipes Heynemann, 1885 belongs in the latter taxon. These two genera are now treated as distinct by Thomé and his colleagues. Thus, there is a somewhat anomalous situation in which our Black-velvet Leatherleaf is now known as Belocaulus angustipes (Heynemann, 1885), but it is not in the genus Angustipes Colosi, that author's probable intention for its inclusion notwithstanding!

Relevant literature:
Baker, H. B., 1925. Nomenclature of the Vaginulidae (Veronicellidae). The Nautilus 39(1): 13-18. July.
Colosi, G., 1922. Contribito alla conosenza anatomica e sistematica dei Vaginulidi Sud-Americani. Anales del Museu Argentino de Ciencias Naturales "B. Rivadavia." 31: 475-517. [not seen in its entirety]
Dundee, D. S., 1977. Observations on the veronicellid slugs of the southern United States. The Nautilus 91(3): 108-114. July 1.
Hoffmann, H. 1925. Die Vaginuliden. Ein Beitrag zur Kenntnis ihrer Biologie, Anatomie, Systematik, geographischen Verbreitung und Phylogenie. [Fauna et Anatomia ceylanica 391)]. Jena Z. Naturw., Jena, 61(1,2): 1-374, fig. 1-41, plates 1-11. [not seen in its entirety]
ICZN (International Commission for Zoological Nomenclature), 1999. International code of zoological nomenclature fourth edition. I.C.Z.N., London. pp. 1-306 + i-xxix.
Nananjo-García, E., J. W. Thomé, and J. Castillejo, 2007. A review of the Veronicellidae from Mexico (Gastropoda: Soleolifera). Revista Mex. Biodivers. 78: 41-50. [not seen in its entirety]
Thomé, J. W., 1973. Erneute Beschreibung neotropischer Veronicellidae-Typen (Mollusca, Gastropoda). II. Arten aus der Sammlung des Senckenberg-Museums in Frankfurt. Archiv fur Molluskenkunde 99(5-6): 331-363. [not seen in its entirety]
Thomé, J. W., 1975. Os gêneros da família Veronicellidae nas Américas (Mollusca; Gastropoda). Iheringia, Sér. Zool., Porto Alegre 48: 3-56. [not seen in its entirety]
Thomé, J. W., 1976. Revisão do gênero Phyllocaulis Colosi, 1922 (Mollusca; Veronicellidae). Iheringia, Sér. Zool., Porto Alegre 49: 67-90. [not seen in its entirety]
Thomé, J. W., 1989. Annotated and illustrated preliminary list of the Veronicellidae (Mollusca: Gastropoda) of the Antilles and Central and North America. Journ. Med. and Applied Malacol. 1: 11-28. [not seen in its entirety]
Thomé, J. W., P. H. Dos Santos, and L. Pedott, 1997. Annotated list of the Veronicellidae from the collections of the Academy of Natural Science of Philadelphia and the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., U.S.A. Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 110: 520-536. [not seen in its entirety]
Walls, J. G., 2009. Just a plain black slug: Belocaulus angustipes. American Conchologist 37(1): 28-29. Mar. [three Thomé references in the bibliography]