Can we be
absolutely sure what shell Ravenel intended for his O. sayana?
Tursch et al. (1998: 29) wrote: "The type is missing from the
Ravenel Collection, housed at the Charleston Museum (fide Dr.
Harry D. [sic] Lee, in litt.," which I can confirm.
Lacking a type specimen, can the reference I made above to Say hold up
as iconic for Ravenel's species? Gary Rosenberg (2009) wrote: "Ravenel
(1834) did not refer explicit [sic] to Say's American
Conchology, but must have meant that work, in which Say provided an
excellent illustration of the species only four years earlier." I
certainly concur with Gary's analysis as there is copious evidence that
Say and Ravenel were in contact for a substantial period dating to the
latter's attendance at the University of Pennsylvania's School of
Medicine, not far from Say's haunts at the Academy of Natural Sciences,
and from which he graduated as valedictorian in 1819. Thus we may safely
regard the Say illustration as the type figure. Coupling this image with
his statement "sometimes exceeds three inches," I think there can be
little doubt as to the identity of O. sayana Ravenel.
End of story? Not exactly; there are certainly some loose
ends here. What the heck is Oliva litterata Lamarck, 1811?
Lamarck (1811: 315; species no. 20) referred to Lamarck (1798: plate
362 fig. 1a, 1b [see Fig. 4 above, bottom right]) as the indication for
this species, for which no locality was provided. There can be little
doubt that It is the same as Ravenel's species! Thus it appears that
Ravenel actually misidentified the Lamarck taxon as something he had
examined which originated in Ceylon!
But there's one more hitch: Röding (1798: 36) coined the
binomen Porphyria litterata citing two references, which combine
for five indications. Given the heterogeneous assortment and variable
quality of these figures [vidi in partim], it is not surprising
that various authors have applied this name to several different taxa including Oliva oliva (Linnaeus, 1758), O. spicata (Röding,
1798), and several other candidates, none of which bears any significant
resemblance to our Lettered Olive. The type of Röding's genus
Porphyria is Voluta porphyria Linnaeus, 1758 by application
of the Principle of Absolute tautonomy (ICZN, 1999: Article 68.4). This
well-known species is universally regarded as a member of the genus
Oliva Bruguičre, 1789, which indicts Porphyria Röding, 1798
as a subjective synonym. That synonymy places Oliva litterata
Lamarck, 1811 in secondary junior homonymy of O. litterata (Röding,
1798) and thus unavailable for use in formal taxonomic nomenclature.
Thus, although the species was first illustrated by Lamarck
(1798), first named by Lamarck (1811), and first tied to American waters
by Say (1830), Ravenel gets the credit for giving it its appropriately
eponymous scientific name. While Ravenel saw that Thomas Say was
memorialized for his role in this elucidation, Jean Baptiste Pierre
Antoine de Monet Comte de Lamarck, having suffered the indignity of
nomenclatorial disenfranchisement, may take some solace in knowing that
he is responsible for the official vernacular name (Turgeon, Quinn et
al., 1998: 99) as featured in the title above.
NB: Components of the four figures have been edited into juxtaposition.
ICZN (International Commission for Zoological Nomenclature), 1999.
International code of zoological nomenclature fourth edition.
I.C.Z.N., London. pp. 1-306 + i-xxix.
Kurtz, J.D. 1860. Catalogue of Recent marine shells, found on the coasts
of North and South Carolina. Kurtz, Portland, ME. 9
Lamarck, J.B.P.A. de M. de [ed.], 1798. Tableau Encylopédique et
Méthodique des trois rčgnes de la nature vers, coquilles, mollusques et
polypiers. Tome second. Agasse, Paris. Planches 287-390. 29 April.
Lamarck, [J.B.P.A.deM.C.], 1811 ["1810"]. Suite de la détermination des
espčces de Mollusques Testacés. Tarričre. (Terebellum.)
Ancillaire. (Ancillaria.) Olive. (Oliva.). Annales du
Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle 16: 300-328.
Ravenel, E., 1834. Catalogue of Recent shells in the cabinet of
Edmund Ravenel, M. D., Ravenel, Charleston. pp. 1-20.
Röding, P. F., 1798. Museum Boltenianum sive catalogus cimeliorum e
tribus [sic] regnis naturae quae olim collegerat Joa. Fried
Bolten, M. D. p. d. per XL. annos proto physicus Hamburgensis. Pars
secunda continens conchylia sive testacea univalvia bivalvia &
multivalvia. viii + pp. 1-199. 1986 reprint of Sherborn, C. D. and
E. R. Sykes 1906 facsimile. American Malacological Union, Inc.
Rosenberg, G., 2009. Malacolog 4.1.1: A Database of Western Atlantic
Marine Mollusca. [WWW database (version 4.1.1)] URL
Say, T., 1830. American Conchology, or descriptions of the shells of
North America. Illustrated by colored figures from original drawings
executed from nature 1. Thomas Say, New Harmony, Indiana. [iii + 36
pp., unpaginated] + plates 1-10.
Turgeon, D. D., J. F. Quinn, Jr., A. E. Bogan, E. V. Coan, F. G.
Hochberg, W. G. Lyons, P. M. Mikkelsen, R. J. Neves, C .F. E. Roper, G.
Rosenberg, B. Roth, A. Scheltema, F. G. Thompson, M. Vecchione, and J.
D. Williams, 1998. Common and scientific names of aquatic
invertebrates from the United States and Canada: mollusks, 2nd edition.
American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 26. Bethesda, Maryland.
ix + pp. 1-509 + 16 pls. (unpaginated).
Tursch, B., D. Griefeneder and D. Huart, 1998. A puzzle of highly
multiform species: Oliva fulgurator (Röding, 1798) and related
American taxa. Apex 13(1-2): 1-61, April 20.
Vokes, H. E. and E. H. Vokes, 1984 [“1983”]. Distribution of
shallow-water marine Mollusca, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.
Mesoamerican Ecological Institute, Monograph 1, Middle American
Research Institute, Publication 54: i-viii + 1-183 incl. 50