Conasprella (Ximeniconus)

Conasprella ximenes, copyright Shellnut.

Belongs within: Conasprella.

Conus jaspideus or Conasprella jaspidea, take your pick
Published 9 January 2018
Live Conasprella jaspidea, copyright Anne DuPont.

Cone shells are one of the classic varieties of tropical sea shells, perhaps only rivalled in their familiarity with the general public by cowries and conches. Over 800 species of the family Conidae have been described from around the world. The specimen above represents one of these species, going by the name of Conasprella jaspidea or Conus jaspideus. The alternatives reflect the conflict between those who would treat all cone shells as belonging to a single genus Conus, or those who would divide them between multiple genera (Conasprella jaspidea is the name used for this species by Puillandre et al., 2014). One 2009 classification went so far as to divide the cone shells between 89 genera in five separate families, which does seem perhaps a little excessive. Among other features, Conasprella species differ from Conus sensu stricto in having a higher spire to the shell.

The type specimen of Conasprella jaspidea, copyright MHNG.

Conasprella jaspidea is found in coastal sections of the western Atlantic between Florida and the area of Rio de Janeiro. It is a medium-sized shell, reaching about three centimetres in length. Whorls of the spire are marked by distinct shoulders, and the body whorl is ornamented by spiral cords. The colour of the shell is white, orange or brown with darker brownish or violet spots. Shells of C. jaspidea may vary in texture from granular to smooth. These variants were initially recognised as distinct species or subspecies Conus jaspideus and C. verrucosus but, not only can both forms be found intermixed within a single population, the difference between them may be simply a question of the degree of wear a shell has been exposed to (Santos Gomes 2011).

Like other cone shells, Conasprella jaspidea is venomous with the radula bearing a single functional tooth modified into a short of hypodermic needle for injecting venom. Species of Conasprella are vermivorous (that is, they feed on worms). Feeding by a live individual of C. jaspidea was observed in an aquarium by Santos Gomes (2011). Photographs therein show the individual ingesting a polychaete worm that was perhaps not too much shorter in length than the cone shell itself; the process of feeding (from the initial strike with the radula to completion of ingestion) took about eighteen minutes from start to finish.

Systematics of Conasprella (Ximeniconus)
Conasprella (Ximeniconus Emerson & Old 1962) (see below for synonymy)PD14
|--C. (*X.) ximenes (Gray 1839) [=Conus ximenes]PD14
|--C. (X.) alexandremonteiroi (Cossignani 2014)PD14
|--C. (X.) allamandi (Petuch 2013)PD14
|--C. (X.) anaglyptica (Crosse 1865)PD14
|--C. (X.) arawak (Petuch & Myers 2014)PD14
|--C. (X.) baccata (Sowerby 1877) [=Conus baccatus]PD14
|--C. (X.) berschaueri (Petuch & Myers 2014)PD14
|--C. (X.) damasoi (Cossignani 2007)PD14
|--C. (X.) ericmonnieri (Petuch & Myers 2014)PD14
|--C. (X.) fluviamaris (Petuch & Sargent 2011)PD14
|--C. (X.) henckesi (Coltro 2004)PD14
|--C. (X.) herndli (Petuch & Myers 2014)PD14
|--C. (X.) jaspidea (Gmelin 1791)PD14 (see below for synonymy)
|--C. (X.) lucidus (Wood 1828)PD14
|--C. (X.) mahogani (Reeve 1843) [=Conus mahogani]PD14
|--C. (X.) mindana (Hwass in Bruguière 1792)PD14 (see below for synonymy)
|--C. (X.) ogum (Petuch & Myers 2014)PD14
|--C. (X.) perplexa (Sowerby 1857) [=Conus perplexus, *Perplexiconus perplexus]PD14
|--C. (X.) pfluegeri (Petuch 2003)PD14
|--C. (X.) poremskii (Petuch & Myers 2014)PD14
|--C. (X.) puncticulata (Hwass in Bruguière 1792)PD14 (see below for synonymy)
| |--C. p. puncticulataBC01
| `--‘Conus puncticulatus’ cardonensis Vink 1990BC01
|--C. (X.) pusio (Hwass in Bruguière 1792)PD14
|--C. (X.) roatanensis (Petuch & Sargent 2011)PD14
|--C. (X.) sargenti (Petuch 2013)PD14
|--C. (X.) simonei (Petuch & Myers 2014)PD14
|--C. (X.) stearnsii (Conrad 1869)PD14 [=Conus jaspideus stearnsiD88]
|--C. (X.) tornata (Sowerby 1833) [=Conus tornatus, *Globiconus tornatus]PD14
|--C. (X.) vanhyningi (Rehder 1944)PD14
`--C. (X.) wendrosi (Tenorio & Afonso 2013)PD14

Conasprella (Ximeniconus Emerson & Old 1962) [incl. Globiconus Tucker & Tenorio 2009, Jaspidiconus Petuch 2003, Perplexiconus Tucker & Tenorio 2009]PD14

Conasprella (Ximeniconus) jaspidea (Gmelin 1791)PD14 [=Conus jaspideusPD14, *Jaspidiconus jaspideusPD14; incl. Conus jaspideus branhamae Clench 1953BC01]

Conasprella (Ximeniconus) mindana (Hwass in Bruguière 1792)PD14 [=Conus mindanusPD14; incl. Conus karinae Usticke 1968BC01, Conus pseudojaspideus Usticke 1968BC01]

Conasprella (Ximeniconus) puncticulata (Hwass in Bruguière 1792)PD14 [=Conus puncticulatusPD14; incl. Conus papillosus Kiener 1849ES88, Conus pusillusC64]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[BC01] Boyko, C. B., & J. R. Cordeiro. 2001. Catalog of Recent type specimens in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History. V. Mollusca, part 2 (class Gastropoda [exclusive of Opisthobranchia and Pulmonata], with supplements to Gastropoda [Opisthobranchia], and Bivalvia). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 262: 1–170.

[C64] Carpenter, P. P. 1864. Supplementary report on the present state of our knowledge with regard to the Mollusca of the west coast of North America. Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 33: 517–686.

[D88] D’Asaro, C. N. 1988. Micromorphology of neogastropod egg capsules. Nautilus 102 (4): 134–148.

[ES88] Emerson, W. K., & W. E. Sage III. 1988. Conus baccatus G. B. Sowerby III, 1877: a Panamic faunal constituent. Nautilus 102 (3): 110–114.

[PD14] Puillandre, N., T. F. Duda, C. Meyer, B. M. Olivera & P. Bouchet. 2014. One, four or 100 genera? A new classification of the cone snails. Journal of Molluscan Studies 81: 1–23.

Santos Gomes, R. dos. 2011. Conus jaspideus (Mollusca: Neogastropoda: Conoidea) on the Brazilian coast. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 91 (2): 531–538.

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