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Posted: Nov 20 2012

                     Conus anabathrum Crosse, 1865, Florida Cone (Previously Conus floridanus Gabb, 1869)                                         or

Conus floridanus Gabb, 1869 (Known as Conus anabathrum Crosse, 1865 for about past 20 years)

(See discussion about name below; Sep 19, 2022)

March 25, 2018 - A discussion on Conch-L:

Doug Thompson:

"Hello to all. On a recent kayak trip to the 10,000 islands my guide and I found a very large C. anabathram. He gave it to me, so I decided to measure it. It measures 55.35 mm. I checked the WRS web site and found that the shell I have is much larger than the current record, so I attempted to register it. I wanted to register it in my buddy's name and return it to him with a WRS certificate as a surprise. I submitted the paperwork and two photos just like I have done in the past but hit a brick wall. Phillipe came back to me with a message stating he could not tell if the shell was anabathram anabathram or anabathram floridensis. He asked for me to send him better photos, which I did. He also wanted me to contact Ed Petuch to see what he thought, which I did. I have been doing research on the species and found out that the shell known as floridensis is actually a synonym for anabathram and that no other species name applies. This is in spite of the fact WRS has a shell called anabathram floridensis and anabathram anabathram. I have sent photos to other collectors, all of whom agree with me the shell is anabathram and the other name is not a valid name. I have battled this before with WRS and decided to ask the cone experts in the group to comment and let me know their take. I have found Florida cones on many occasions and the person who found this one has actually found several thousand. After my long winded explanation, I ask simply is C. anabathram the appropriate name for the Florida cone or is there another species that could compete for the id. This shell came from very near Marco Island, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico."

Bill Fenzan:

"I am not a cone expert, but I have studied existing West Atlantic cone types in person and have a good collection and library.  


You raise several issues.  The most prominent one seems to be “Is C. anabathrum the appropriate name for the Florida cone or is there another species that could compete for the id.”  The short answer is that this was resolved in the late 1980’s by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN).  The relevant case is #2563 which was a request to conserve the name Conus floridanus and list Conus anabathrum as nomen oblitum.  The ICZN ruled against this petition and placed C. anabathrum on the Official List of Specific Names in Zoology (Bull. Zool. Nomenclature, 46:140, 1989: Opinion 1539).  So, the answer to your question is that Conus anabathrum is the appropriate species name for “the Florida cone”.  This opinion is available free online at the Biodiversity Heritage Library.  


Since the 1989 opinion, several proposals have been made to change genera in the Conidae.  Alan Kohn in his 2014 book on Conus of the Southeastern United States and Caribbean still uses “Conus” as the genus because none of the other higher classifications recently offered has stood the test of time.  To me, this means that none of the proposals has been confirmed by other, independent, workers.  Each has a set of supporters, but no consensus has yet been forged for a single scheme.  This is why I still use the genus “Conus” for shells that others believe to be in different genera."

Sep 19, 2022 - A discussion on Conch-L:

Bob Fales:  WHAT is heaven’s name is going on with the Florida Cone?

 For years it was Conus floridanus Gabb, 1869.  Then one day it supposedly became Conus anabathrum Crosse, 1865, by priority.  Now I see on WoRMS that Conus anabathrum has been superseded by Conus scalaris Valenciennes, 1832, but isn’t Conus scalaris a Pacific Ocean species?  And . . . WoRMS now has Conus floridanus Gabb, 1869, back as an “accepted” name.


So, is Conus floridanus Gabb, 1869, now back as our good old Florida Cone?

Bill Fenzan:

In 1987, Walter Ccrnohorsky proposed to the ICZN conservation of the name Conus floridanus Gabb, 1869.  The next year, 1988, M. G. Harasewych and R. E. Petit published comment on this proposal arguing in favor of keeping the name Conus anabathrum Crosse, 1865.  The case (2563) was decided in opinion 1539 published in the Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 46(2) dated June 1989.  This opinion supported use of the name Conus anabathrum rather than Conus floridanus.


Tha change by WoRMS to “accept” Conus floridanus again seems to have been made based on publication of an article in Xenophora Taxonomy, a supplement to Xenophora, which is the magazine of the Association of French Conchologists. There is nothing in the article to indicate that the Official List of Specific Names in Zoology has also been changed from the decision made in 1989, so I am keeping my labels with Conus anabathrum.  In my opinion, the April 2022 article is only an unsupported opinion.  That an editor for WoRMS used it to “accept” a taxonomic change without confirming acceptance by the ICZN indicates a quality control problem for WoRMS, I think.



Berschauer, D. P. 2022. The True Identity of Gradiconus anabathrum (Crosse, 1865). Xenophora Taxonomy 35 (April 2022):43-48.  ( 

Bob Fales:  OK, thanks.  But what about the contention that Conus anabathrum Crosse, 1865, refers to a different species and is now superseded by Conus scalaris Valenciennes, 1832? Same logic?

Philippe Bouchet:  

I have added in WoRMS / MolluscaBase a Nomenclature note under both Conus floridanus and          C. anabathrum:


ICZN Opinion 1539 (Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature, 46(2): 140) has ruled that the name Conus floridanus Gabb, 1869, is not to be given precedence over Conus anabathrum Crosse, 1865, by those authors considering that the two names refer to the same species. However, it has not declared Conus floridanus invalid or unavailable, and it remains a potentially valid name. The revalidation of the species Conus floridanus by Berschauer (2022) is nomenclaturally perfectly permissible.

I hope it clarifies the case.

Bob Fales: 

OK, but WoRMS currently carries Conus anabathrum Crosse, 1865, as a junior subjective synonym of Conus scalaris Valenciennes, 1832.  So, are we talking three names that refer to one species or three names that refer to two species?  In my ignorance, I cannot believe that Conus anabathrum Crosse, 1865, can refer simultaneously to the “Florida Cone,” formerly Conus floridanus Gabb, 1869, and the “Ladder Cone,” currently Conus scalaris Valenciennes, 1832, which is a Pacific Ocean species(?).

So . . . . what’s what?


It’s a good question.  Anxious to see the answer from the experts.  Here’s the abstract of Berschauer’s article: “Gradiconus anabathrum (Crosse, 1865) is determined to be a junior synonym of Gradiconus scalaris (Valenciennes, 1832). The synonymy with Gradiconus floridanus (Gabb, 1869) was in error and accordingly the name Gradiconus floridanus (Gabb, 1869) should be revived, and the ICZN should set aside the suppression of G. floridanus (Gabb, 1869) which is an endemic cone species found in the Suwannean Subprovince of the Carolinian Molluscan Province.” 


I think he’s saying that somehow the name C. anabathrum (a junior synonym of C. scalaris; a species found in the Pacific) was erroneously assigned to our Florida Cone and became so widely accepted that a case was made and approved for the name C. anabathrum to suppress C. floridanus.  I take this to mean that C. scalaris/C. anabathrum is the Pacific species and the same name cannot apply to our Florida Cone (a different species) and its old name should be resurrected.

David Campbell:

 Unless someone thought that scalaris and floridanus were the same species (which seems highly unlikely), anabathrum could only refer to one of the two.  But the problem is which one it refers to.  I have not seen the paper in question, but evidently the 2022 paper argues that identifying anabathrum with floridanus was a mistake and anabathrum is really scalaris.  If that were true, then floridanus would be available.    

José H. Leal:

After reading David Berschauer's paper yesterday, I have decided to adopt (once again in my lifetime!) the name Conus floridanus for the Florida species. IMHO, he makes a good case for the synonymy of C. anabathrum under C. scalaris.



With permission of the author, here is Berschauer's article:


9/22/22 Greg Herbert:

There are a couple of important issues with the anabathrum/floridanus article that haven't been brought up yet.  The claim that the type of C. anabathrum (from the Cuming collection) is synonymous with a Pacific species (C. scalaris) rather than Floridian C. anabathrum/floridanus is based on two arguments.  


The first argument is that Cuming only had access to shells he collected from the Pacific.  Therefore the C. anabathrum type couldn't have come from Florida.  This argument is very weak.  It was brought to my attention that Dance's (1980) paper about Cuming actually details numerous examples where Cuming traded or purchased shells, corresponded with other collectors, and got others to collect for him, including people who collected in the tropical western Atlantic.  You can see for yourself here. 

This does not prove that Cuming had Florida shells, but it doesn't mean he didn't have them either.  This argument is inconclusive. 


The other half of the argument is about morphology, specifically that the narrow shape of the C. anabathrum type is more similar to C. scalaris than the broader Floridian C. anabathrum/C. floridanus.  This argument is also very weak.  Cone shell shapes tend to get broader at the shoulder with size increase during ontogeny.  The C. anabathrum type is just 28 mm.  Malacolog lists the maximum size of Floridian C. anabathrum/floridanus as 51 mm. That means the C. anabathrum type could just be narrow because it's a juvenile Floridian C. anabathrum/floridanus.  There's a good growth series of C. anabathrum/floridanus from Florida here, including a narrow shell the same length as the C. anabathrum type.  If you trace the outline of the C. anabathrum type and overlay that on the smaller jaxshells shells, the shapes match almost exactly.  However, if you overlay the outline of the C. anabathrum type on the C. scalaris shell figured in the Xenophora paper, it's not a good fit.  The C. scalaris spire has a different angle, the shoulder is more sloping, and the anterior half of the body whorl is more narrow.  We can't make any declarations from such a small test, but it does mean that the shape of the C. anabathrum type does not rule out a Florida origin.  


Same goes for spire color.  The spire of the C. anabathrum type was described as completely orange and closer to the orange spire of C. scalaris than the whiter spires of Floridian C. anabathrum/floridanus.  Marlo's documentation of Floridian shells, however, has several examples with orange spires.  Spire color does not rule out a Florida origin for the C. anabathrum type.


As it stands, then, neither argument is supported by any evidence. That makes the proposed taxonomic changes unnecessary, at least for now.  I look forward to someone digging into this with a lot more data and a different methodological approach.

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