Crossostoma reflexilabrum, from Knight et al. (1960).

Belongs within: Vetigastropoda.

The Crossostomatinae of the Mesozoic
Published 17 February 2020

The hard shell of many molluscs has left them with an excellent fossil record, one with few rivals among other groups of organisms. As a result, we are aware of a great many molluscan lineages that have inhabited this planet in the past, only to fade away long before the present day. One such group is the gastropod subfamily Crossostomatinae.

Crossostoma specimen, from Szabó et al. (1993).

The Crossostomatinae were Mesozoic representatives of the vetigastropods, one of the major subdivisions of gastropods corresponding to what used to be referred to as the archaeogastropods. Vetigastropods are primarily marine (off the top of my head, I can’t think of any that are found in freshwater or terrestrial habitats, though I’m happy to be corrected) and crossostomatines were no exception. The classification of vetigastropods has tended to be rather unsettled but crossostomatines were definitely part of the lineage that includes the modern top shells (Trochidae) and cat’s-eyes (Turbinidae), recognised as the superfamily Trochoidea in the recent synoptic classification of Bouchet et al. (2017). Within this lineage, the crossostomatines belong to the group of families possessing a calcareous operculum (sometimes treated as a separate superfamily Turbinoidea, but the significance of the calcareous vs horny operculum division in the trochoids seems to be the subject of debate). In recent treatments, the Crossostomatinae have been included within the family Colloniidae, characterised by the lack of a nacreous layer on the inside of the shell (Monari et al. 1996).

In general, crossostomatines were small shells with a smooth outer surface and broadly rounded whorls. They varied in shape from forms resembling modern cat’s-eyes to lower-coiling, almost planispiral forms. A notable feature of the group is a tendency for the top of the aperture to be filled by a callus so the aperture appears almost perfectly circular. Other modifications of the mature shell opening are also common: Crossostoma, for instance, has the outer lip strongly thickened (Knight et al. 1960) whereas the final whorl of Adeorbisina turns away slightly from the regular coiling axis so that in top-down view the shell appears to bulge outwards before the terminus (Szabó et al. 1993).

Though they persisted through most of the Mesozoic, the number of known crossostomatine genera does not appear to be large. They seem to be associated with hard-ground deposits (Conti & Szabó 1987) so it is possible the group was more diverse in high-energy environments (organisms living in such environments, for instance along rocky shores, tend not to get preserved in the fossil record because their remains are broken up by wave action). It is possible that their lineage did not truly go extinct in the Mesozoic: Szabó et al. (1993) allude to the possibility of crossostomatines being ancestral to the subfamily Colloniinae, members of which may have survived to the Pliocene. Nevertheless, the Colloniidae as a whole did not survive to the present day, and it seems the line of the crossostomatines may have entirely passed from this Earth.

Systematics of Crossostomatinae
<==Crossostomatinae [Crossostomatidae]BR17
|--Costataphrus Gründel 2007 [Costataphrini]BR17
| `--*C. admirandus (Tate 1870) [=Turbo admirandus]BR17
|--Helicocryptus d’Orbigny 1850BR05 [=Heliocryptus Wenz 1938KC60; Helicocryptinae, HelicocryptiniBR17]
| `--H. dubius (Buvignier 1852) (see below for synonymy)KC60
|--Adeorbisina Greco 1899BR05 [Adeorbisininae, AdeorbisininiBR17]
| |--*A. (Adeorbisina) canavarii Greco 1899BR17
| `--A. (Mariottia Conti & Fischer 1981)MCS96
|--Planicollonia Conti & Monari 1986MCS96
`--Crossostoma Morris & Lycett 1851BR05
| i. s.: C. discoideum Morris & Lycett 1850TTE93
| C. nudum Fisher 1969TTE93
| C. reflexilabrumKC60
|--*C. (Crossostoma) prattii (Morris & Lycett 1851) [=Delphinula prattii]BR17
`--C. (Palaeocollonia Kittl 1899)MCS96 [=Paleocolonia Wenz 1938KC60]
`--*Palaeocollonia’ laevigata (Münster 1841) [=Delphinula laevigata]KC60

Helicocryptus dubius (Buvignier 1852) [=Rotella dubia; incl. Helix pusilla Roemer 1836 non Vallot 1801, *Helicocryptus pusillus]KC60

*Type species of generic name indicated


[BR05] Bouchet, P., & J.-P. Rocroi. 2005. Classification and nomenclator of gastropod families. Malacologia 47 (1–2): 1–397.

[BR17] Bouchet, P., J.-P. Rocroi, B. Hausdorf, A. Kaim, Y. Kano, A. Nützel, P. Parkhaev, M. Schrödl & E. E. Strong. 2017. Revised classification, nomenclator and typification of gastropod and monoplacophoran families. Malacologia 61 (1–2): 1–526.

Conti, M. A., & J. Szabó. 1987. Comparison of Bajocian gastropod faunas from the Bakony Mts. (Hungary) and Umbria (Italy). Annales Historico-Naturales Musei Nationalis Hungarici 79: 43–59.

[KC60] Knight, J. B., L. R. Cox, A. M. Keen, R. L. Batten, E. L. Yochelson & R. Robertson. 1960. Gastropoda: systematic descriptions. In: Moore, R. C. (ed.) Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology pt I. Mollusca 1: Mollusca—General Features, Scaphopoda, Amphineura, Monoplacophora, Gastropoda—General Features, Archaeogastropoda and some (mainly Paleozoic) Caenogastropoda and Opisthobranchia pp. I169–I331. Geological Society of America, and University of Kansas Press.

[MCS96] Monari, S., M. A. Conti & J. Szabó. 1996. Evolutionary systematics of Jurassic Trochoidea: the family Colloniidae and the subfamily Proconulidae. In: Taylor, J. D. (ed.) Origin and Evolutionary Radiation of the Mollusca pp. 199–204. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

Szabó, J., M. A. Conti & S. Monari. 1993. Jurassic gastropods from Sicily; new data to the classification of Ataphridae (Trochoidea). Scripta Geologica, Special Issue 2: 407–416.

[TTE93] Tracey, S., J. A. Todd & D. H. Erwin. 1993. Mollusca: Gastropoda. In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 131–167. Chapman & Hall: London.

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