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Discussing some Florida Vexillum


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There is a group of shallow water Costellariidae found in Florida and surrounding areas that can be quite confusing in large part due to a confusing history in the literature.  It includes:

    V. albocinctum (C. B. Adams, 1845)

    V. epiphaneum (Rehder, 1943)

    V. exiguum (C. B. Adams, 1845)

    V. hanleyi (Dohrn, 1862)

    V. gemmatum (G. B. Sowerby II, 1874)

    V. moniliferum (C. B. Adams, 1850)


This discussion was stimulated by a shell collected Steve Rosenthal


Dec 28, 2019 Steve to Richard Salisbury: “… this shell is from Eleuthera

(last month), I found several more of them in 1996. We eventually

decided after that 1st trip they were closest to epiphanea, but like

this shell, I always wondered about that, because it was more

black and white than any brown, and the white spots did not

connect with each other in a spiral direction....what do you think?”


Richard: “This appears to be a specimen of Atlantilux albocinctum (C. B. Adams, 1845). I recognize this as a valid species with a synonym of Mitra gemmata G. B. Sowerby II, 1874.  See attached images and WORD document for collection data and sizes of the 2 syntypes. I do not think that this is a very common shell.”

Harry Lee: “I'm not sure what image(s) you sent to Richard, but the holotype of the C.B. Adams taxon, at least MCZ 177080 as figured in Clench & Turner (1950: pl. 36 fig. 10 seems pretty far removed from Atlantilux exigua [type species by OD] and A. gemmata as I understand these taxa. It seems the NHMUK "syntypes" are not conspecific with the holotype.

Maybe Cernohorsky (1978) addressed this disconnect.

Cernohorsky, W.O., 1978. The taxonomy of Caribbean-Atlantic Costellariidae (Mollusca: Gastropoda). Records of the Auckland Institute and Museum 15: 87-109.

Clench, W. J. and R. D. Turner, 1950.  The western Atlantic marine mollusks described by C. B. Adams. Occasional Papers on Mollusks 1(15): 233-403 incl. pls. 29-49. June 26." 

Richard: "Attached are Cernohorsky’s 1978 comments

about the possible type mix-up of Mitra albocincta C.

B. Adams, 1845 and Mitra monilifera C. B. Adams, 1850.

I agree with Cernohorsky, that the type material was

mixed up by Clench and Turner 1950.  Cernohorsky

listed Mitra gemmata G. B. Sowerby II, 1874 as a valid

species, however, it is clear to me that the syntypes

of Mitra gemmata in the NHMUK (WAS BMNH) are the

same species as illustrated and described by C. B.

Adams as Mitra albocincta.  The two probable

syntypes of Mitra albocincta in the NHMUK 1845.3.85

-86 are a good match for the type figure and

description of Mitra albocincta.  The earliest name

 for this species would be Mitra albocincta.

Attached also is an image of the possible type of

Mitra albocincta selected by Clench and Turner,

1950 - as shown in Cernohorsky 1978. Cernohorsky

rejected the selection of the MCZ specimen as the

type of Mitra albocincta due to the incorrect size of

the specimen, not matching the original description.

He indicated that this was instead the type of Mitra

monilifera C. B. Adams, 1850. I agree with

Cernohorsky on this matter as well.

As far as assignment to the genus Atlantilux, I am

open to discussion about this, but first we must

determine an identification for Mitra albocincta

C. B. Adams, 1845."

Steve's Miter.JPG
albo 3.JPG
Cern 2.JPG

Jan 7 2020, Marlo:  "OK, I did a quick look and it sure seems C&T’s figure for albocincta does not fit Adam’s description nor Steve’s shells.  I note also that Abbott appears to have used C&T’s figure and provides a description that does not fit Steve’s shells.  However, it appears to me that Steve’s shells are close to Adam’s somewhat insufficient description for albocincta.  I agree with Harry that Steve’s shells do not fit with gemmata.   Makes me think we really don’t know what shell is actually albocincta.  However, Richard’s comment below indicates that, in his opinion,  the two syntypes for albocincta figured by Cernohotsky (figures 19, 20) differ from the shell selected and presented as the “holotype” by C&T, and these two most probably reflect the actual albocincta.  Seems like a good conclusion to me, and that Steve’s shells fit with figures 19 and 20 (but for being larger)."  


Appears my presentation of V. albocincta may have the correct shell for the name, despite relying upon erroneous background photos and descriptions. 



Jan 18, Marlo to Harry:  Do you concur (with

IDs on slides 6&7)?




Harry:  "You'll have to show me an

authentic specimen and distinguish

your shell from Antilux ampla; see"










Jan 19, Marlo:  The specimen on slide 6

was physically examined and ID’d by you. 

You also confirmed the one on slide 7

before Bill added it to Jaxshells. 


My cursory look at A. ampla concludes

it is none other than A. exiguum, and I

don’t see how this taxon can be confused

with V. gemmatum.

Harry:  "I thought I asked to see an authentic

Vexillum gemmatum."

Jan 20, Marlo:  Not sure what “authentic” means

in absence of a holotype.  However, I believe

my presentations and the selected illustrations

very well fit Sowerby’s taxon.





Harry:  "Did you miss Richard Salisbury's comments on Mitra gemmata Sowerby?

I attach a scan of a passage in Cernohorsky (1978), which includes a the designation of a lectotype for it and salient comments about its synonymy.   PS It is clearly an Atlantilux."

Jan 22, Marlo:  I don’t have Riichard’s email here, but



Harry:  "The Thesaurus (original) description uses the term fusiform and states the aperture is the length of the spire. If it weren't for the (exaggerated?) shoulder on the L of the body whorl (viewers' R), of the iconotype, I'd be certain all the shells Cernohorsky figured were authentic Mitra gemmata. The difference between the dorsal view of the lectotype and that in slide 1 (of your presentation) is rather stark - in my opinion far more than any abrasion/decortication could produce. Short subsutural crowded axials are not evident in the treatment in the Thesaurus or by Cernohorsky, yet I think I can make them out on your specimen.

I'm cc'ing this to Richard since he was kind enough to help us out earlier in this discussion.


PS: You've not mentioned the striking similarity between your V. gemmatum and Antilux ampla"

Jan 23, Marlo

A lot to address.  But, quickly. 



Agree.  Yes as to my specimen (see particularly slides 3 and 6).  Note that Sowerby indicated gemmate was “ribbed above the middle.”  I interpret this to also mean he did not observe distinct ribbing below the periphery and over the base, whereas C indicate “granulose cords basally.”  My presentation does include a form of gemmatum [Peanut Island (ID’s by you) and Pelican Shoal] with what I would describe as granulose spiral cording around the base.


Comparisons of Antilux ampla  to A. exiguum and A. exiguum to V. gemmatum will be done shortly.  However, see the below comparative table (A. ampla not included since my opinion is that it is not valid; rather no more than a dark color form of A. exiguum.  I have yet to examine the paper closely).

gemmata b.JPG
gemmata a.JPG
Atlantilux ampla holotype.JPG
gemmata vs exiguum.JPG
gemmata orig descrip.JPG

Jan 23, Marlo to Richard:  We’ve been going up and back about V. gemmatum.  Basically, I find it hard to accept Cernohorsky’s lectotype as a valid taxon for the one described and figured by Sowerby.  I also accept Sowerby’s as valid and not the same as V. exiguum.  See my presentations and comments:

Vexillum gemmatum

Vexillum exiguum


Richard:  "Before I can discuss Mitra gemmata G. B. Sowerby II, 1874 and Mitra albocincta C. B. Adams, 1845 in any detail, I would like to photograph some of the specimens I have in my collection. I have specimens from Little Torch Key and Key West, Florida. Also a large specimen from Eleuthera Island, Bahamas. So give me some time to get the shells photographed.

I do agree with you that Mitra exigua C. B. Adams, 1845 is a totally different species. See below images and WORD document for collection data and sizes of the shells. I have NOT updated my image file names to reflect the new genus Atlantilux."

V. exiguum lectotype.JPG
Richards exiguum.JPG
Richards data.JPG

Jan 26, Marlo:   Can you send a copy of Cernohorsky’s treatment of V. exiguum?  I could not find his paper online.  If this photo is the lectotype of V. exiguum, then everything I’ve seen illustrated as V. exiguum certainly appears in error.


Jan 26, Richard:  "Attached is Ruth Turner’s September 22, 1956 paper on C. B. Adams Marine Mollusks. I found the paper on Biodiversity Library.  The plate 21 image (adjacent) is better in this scan than the image I sent earlier. You have also images of specimens of this species I have from the Bahamas. In the images of the lectotype of Mitra exigua I do not see the same shape, the fine axial threads and color pattern that is typically seen in the images of this species you have attached to your email. That species is Vexillum hanleyi (Dohrn, 1861) which comes in many color forms.

Cernohorsky’s treatment of Mitra exigua C. B. Adams, 1845 is also attached. Typical of Cernohorsky, he was aware of the Ruth Turner paper as he lists it in the bibliography of Vexillum (Pusia) exiguum. He chose NOT to illustrate the lectotype!

I think it would be quite apparent that the lectotype of Mitra exigua is not the same species as he illustrated under that name in his 1978 paper. Mitra hanleyi is a valid species separate from Mitra exigua in my view.

I have not reviewed the Turner, 1965 paper yet. I do not have a copy of the paper so will look it up."

V. exiguum lectotype.JPG
Cs exuguum 1.JPG
Cs exuguum 2.JPG

Jan 27, Harry:   Thanks, Richard; the plot thickens!

Here is the original description of Mitra exigua C.B. Adams, 1845:

Adams, C.B., 1945. Specierum novarum cinchyliorum in Jamaica

repertorum, synopsis, Pars I, species marinae. Proceedings of the

Boston Society of Natural History 2: 1-10. January.

Orig descrip V. exiguum.JPG
exiguum comments 1.JPG
exiguum comments 2.JPG
many holotyoes 2.JPG

Jan 27Richard: "In my bibliography for this species I noted the following:


1956, Turner, Ruth, B/W, pg. 136, pl. 21, fig. 1, as lectotype of Mitra exigua, reported "Type has been located", MCZ 186593

1950, Clench & Ruth Turner, text only, pgs. 278-279, as Mitra exigua, Reported "Type Lost"


So between 1950 and 1956 Ruth Turner reported finding the type."


Jan 28, Marlo:   I believe my slide captures the below references.  The shell I’ve illustrated as exiguum (as      well as Redfern and Huang) I now believe is the valid taxon hanleyi (as you’ve indicated and illustrated by Cernohorsky) and I doubt we can know what Turner's figure 1 illustrates.   The images you’ve included are indeed good matches to figure 1.  Maybe your new digital images will help us.  I am also arranging to access  Jim Cordy’s collection to ascertain if it contains material that may be helpful.  He had an immense collection      of Florida and Bahamian self-collected material.  Unfortunately, he used most of it as trade material and I’m     not sure how much was transfer to the museum before his untimely death.

Richard: "Okay, there is still a lot of work to be done here. You have compared my shells from the Bahamas to the lectotype of Mitra exigua, however, the type locality for that species is Jamaica. Has anyone seen specimens similar to my Bahama shells from Jamaica?

For now I have assigned this species to Atlantilux but does it

actually fit there? Huang 2015 selected Mitra exigua C. B.

Adams, 1845 to be the type species of Atlantilux. Then in 2017

Fedosov et al in the Costellariidae Phylogeny paper Illustrated

a specimen of Mitra hanleyi Dohrn, 1861 incorrectly identified

as Atlantilux exigua along with the radula to represent Atlantilux.

See attached images from Fedosov et al, 2017. We don’t know

what the radula of Mitra exigua looks like. No molecular data

has been done on that species as far as I know.

This is going to take quite a bit of fixing to make it right.


 I just realized that the images associated with one of your

earlier emails came from Huang, 2015. See that entire plate

attached. I suspect that all of Huang’s specimens (1-4) are

Mitra hanleyi Dohrn, 1861."

Marlo: I have no Jamaican material.


Harry is far more qualified than I to opine as to the validity of “Atlantilux.”  Huang has the correct description but wrong name for his type species of Atlantilux.  At least you and I agree hanleyi would be the correct one.

Richard: "A great start. I do agree with you that Mitra hanleyi Dohrn, 1861 is a valid species and the correct ID for both Huang’s and Fedosov et al, 2017 illustrated specimens.

I have cleaned the Costellariidae specimens I have from the Caribbean area and will soon be photographing them. I am sure we will have more to discuss when I

Send you the images."

Harry: "David Kirsh (cc), who was an earlier member of this costellariid colloquium, has collected in Jamaica."

Then, in early February the conversation turned back to V. gemmatum.

Feb 4, Richard: "I just realized that Dr. Alexander

Fedosov took some excellent photographs of 1

of 3 syntypes of Mitra gemmata when he was

visiting the NHMUK.  Attached are images he took

of 1 of 3 syntypes in the collection. Cernohorsky

took photographs of a specimen  in the same type

lot and designated It as the lectotype. I am not

sure if the two images are of the same specimen?

The shell is very worn  and I do not see the fine

axial threads or riblets  that I see in other

examples of Caribbean Costellariidae.

What I am noticing is that the Fedosov specimen

on the dorsal side of the shell has a spiral cord of

alternating white and dark spots. This is something 

similar to the color pattern of Atlantilux narcisselli,

paratype 1. See attached image. Could these two

species be the same?"

Harry: "I see the similarity.  I think I can make out some of the (supernumerary) subsutural axial elements in the Fedosov specmen - more so in the apertural view."

Feb 5, Marlo:


Feb 5, Richard: "I don’t know if FEDOSOV’s image and Cernohorsky’s lectotype image is the SAME shell?  I will ask NHMUK staff for images of all the type material in the type lot."

MarloAs I indicated previously, it does not look to me that FEDOSOV’s image and Cernohorsky’s lectotype image are the SAME shell.  Especially focus on the differing debris on the respective shells.

Harry: "On re-review of what Richard sent earlier today plus Marlo's construct below, I'm willing to wager that Fedosov imaged the same specimen as did Cernohorsky. He certainly captured more detail.

I can live with the transfer of Mitra gemmata G.B. Sowerby II, 1874 to Atlantilux Huang, 2015.

It seems that A. ampla Huang, 2015 should have been compared by its author to the Sowerby taxon, e.g., the topical (generously decapitated) lectotype. 'Pity that work is left to us iggerants."


MarloMaybe you’re correct.  There are

differences (see circled), but may be due

to differences in photo technology. 

C’s photos are bad.  We’ll see what

Richard finds out.

Harry: "Thanks for all the extra work,

but the differences are very likely

consequent to photographic

technique alone."

Richard: "I have decided to request images of all type material in the NHMUK type lot of Mitra gemmata G. B. Sowerby II, 1874 to try and answer the question about the identity of Dr. Fedosov’s imaged specimen. I will also try to contact NMW to see if I can get digital images of all type material in the type lot of Mitra albocincta C. B. Adams, 1845."

Harry: "Thanks for tackling this issue whole-hog, Richard. It seems it's never easy to get things right."

more gemmata a.JPG
more gemmata b.JPG
more gemmata c.JPG
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