Marble Quarry/Natatorium Also Produces Conchological Gold

By Harry G. Lee

    Once again my wife's family mustered in Manchester, Vermont (VT) for an September get-together.**  As with last year's agenda, there was a little free-time on Saturday for off-site activities.  While cousins and in-laws scattered about to hike, visit boutiques, bookshops, and neighbors' homes, I found myself with a couple of hours and a car - since I'd dropped off a party of three at the Appalachian Trail near the mountain known as "Mad Tom."  Anticipating another opportunity to find a prosperous community of landsnails near a calcareous exposure, and not relishing a long mountain climb, I asked my son, Bobby, who actually has spent much more time in this immediate region, where I might find an abandoned quarry in our valley.  He told me he'd swum in a flooded marble quarry a few miles northwest of Manchester Ctr. on the road (VT 30) to South Dorset. It didn't take me long to get there, and the site was easily recognized from the highway as a few dozen swimmers and sunbathers were enjoying this special resource.
    In hot anticipation of a scene like the one at the quarry near the top of Mt. Aeolus, where empty large snail-shells were strewn about, I walked the outskirts of the tract on which the one-acre pond had been created.  Although there was plenty of exposed marble, not a snail - living or dead was to seen with the naked (or bespectacled) eye.  After twenty or thirty minutes of striking out, I thought about calling it quits, but I convinced myself that, although it wasn't very promising, it wouldn't take more than a couple minutes to gather up some leaf litter from sheltered areas on or at the base of the marble boulders.  I filled up a giant Ziploc bag and headed back to the Homestead, where I knew I could get some living snails for club members Bill Frank and Joel Wooster to photograph.

Figure one

Figure two

    Well, I got my livestock, and the guys got their photos, and there is even more to the story.  After my return to Jacksonville, I dried the leaf litter overnight in the oven (180 degrees), kneaded and sifted the dessicated product, and came up with about a pint of coffee-ground-like material (see figure 1; that's a quarter on top of the heap).  It didn't take more than a few seconds with the microscope before I found I'd struck gold!  After about ten hours (over the rest of the week) of systematic searching, the culling was completed (see figure 2; the field is the size of a postage stamp; 268 shells).  Later I identified and completed the curation, allowing me to record the following species (phylogenetic order; preceded by the number of specimens worth keeping):
1       Cochlicopa lubrica (Müller, 1774) Glossy Pillar
7       Columella simplex (Gould, 1841) Toothless Column
2       Gastrocopta contracta (Say, 1822) Bottleneck Snaggletooth
1       Gastrocopta pentodon (Say, 1822) Comb Snaggletooth
73     Vertigo gouldii (A. Binney, 1843) Variable Vertigo
2       Vallonia costata (Müller, 1774) Costate Vallonia
154    Punctum minutissimum (I. Lea, 1841) Small Spot
27     Euconulus fulvus (Müller, 1774) Brown Hive
1       Nesovitrea electrina (Gould, 1841) Amber Glass
    I had never collected more than about one-half dozen Vertigo gouldii or a dozen Punctum minutissimum. This was the first time Vallonia costata had been found in the state of Vermont!  And .... I don't think I'll leave home without several Ziploc bags in my suitcase.

    Since I'd patched together my landsnail finds in a phylogenetically haphazard way in the first VT report, a cumulative, minimally-annotated list of what I've collected follows (
green: new Co. record; indented: new VT record):

Landsnails collected in Bennington Co., Vermont as of 9/19/04

Carychium exile H. C. Lea, 1842 Ice Thorn
Carychium exiguum (Say, 1822) Obese Thorn
Cochlicopa lubrica (Müller, 1774) Glossy Pillar
    Cochlicopa morseana (Doherty, 1878) Appalachian Pillar
        Columella simplex (Gould, 1841) Toothless Column

Gastrocopta armifera (Say, 1821) Armed Snaggletooth
Gastrocopta contracta (Say, 1822) Bottleneck Snaggletooth
Gastrocopta pentodon (Say, 1822) Comb Snaggletooth
Pupoides albilabris (C. B. Adams, 1841) White-lip Dagger
        Vertigo gouldii (A. Binney, 1843) Variable Vertigo
Vertigo ovata Say, 1822 Ovate Vertigo
        Vertigo pygmaea (Draparnaud, 1801) Crested Vertigo
Vertigo ventricosa (E. S. Morse, 1865) Five-tooth Vertigo
Vallonia excentrica Sterki, 1893 Iroquois Vallonia
Vallonia costata (Müller, 1774) Costate Vallonia
Haplotrema concavum (Say, 1821) Gray-foot Lancetooth
Punctum minutissimum (I. Lea, 1841) Small Spot
Helicodiscus parallelus (Say, 1817) Compound Coil
Helicodiscus shimeki Hubricht, 1962 Temperate Coil
Anguispira alternata (Say, 1817) Flamed Tigersnail
Discus catskillensis (Pilsbry, 1896) Angular Disc
Catinella vermeta (Say, 1829) Suboval Ambersnail
Novisuccinea ovalis (Say, 1817) Oval Ambersnail
Oxyloma retusum (I. Lea, 1834) Blunt Ambersnail
Euconulus fulvus (Müller, 1774) Brown Hive
Glyphyalinia indentata (Say, 1822) Carved Glyph
Hawaiia minuscula (A. Binney, 1841) Minute Gem
Mesomphix cupreus (Rafinesque, 1831) Copper Button
Mesomphix inornatus (Say, 1822) Plain Button
        Nesovitrea binneyana (E. S. Morse, 1864) Blue Glass

Nesovitrea electrina (Gould, 1841) Amber Glass
Paravitrea multidentata (A. Binney, 1841) Dentate Supercoil
Striatura exigua (Stimpson, 1850) Ribbed Striate
Striatura ferrea E. S. Morse, 1864 Black Striate
Striatura milium (E. S. Morse, 1859) Fine-ribbed Striate
Zonitoides arboreus (Say, 1817) Quick Gloss
Zonitoides nitidus (Müller, 1774) Black Gloss
Vitrina angelicae Beck, 1837 Eastern Glass-snail

Appalachina sayana (Pilsbry, 1906) Spike-lip Crater
Euchemotrema fraternum (Say, 1821) Upland Pillsnail
Neohelix albolabris (Say, 1817) Whitelip
Triodopsis tridentata (Say, 1817) Northern Threetooth
Xolotrema denotatum (Férussac, 1823) Velvet Wedge

43 species; 16 new county records, of which 6 are new state records vs Hubricht (1985).

**see Shell-O-Gram Jan-Feb., 2004. and Advancing Vermont Malacology

**** Collected at the Homestead on 9/11/04 and numbered "42" on Advancing Vermont Malacology (page two)

Hubricht, L., 1985, The distributions of the native land mollusks of the Eastern United States. Fieldiana 24(1359): pp. 1-191 + viii. June 28.