Lyria leslieboschae, copyright P. Bail & G. T. Poppe.

Belongs within: Volutoidea.

The lyriin volutes
Published 18 June 2024

Among the various gastropods that have long caught the attention of shell collectors and malacologists, we would have to include the volutes. These carnivorous gastropods have been particularly prized for the large size, sturdiness, and striking coloration of many species. Looking among the subgroups of the volutes, we find the members of the tribe Lyriini.

Lyria mitraeformis, copyright John Sear.

The Lyriini are widespread in the Indo-Pacific region, with a small number of relatively rare species found in the western Atlantic (Weaver & du Pont 1970). As with other volutes, they are most diverse in tropical and subtropical regions (though at least one species, Lyria mitraeformis, inhabits waters along the southern coast of Australia that I can assure you are not in the least bit tropical). Lyriins are typically characterised by biconic shells with distinct axial sculpture (Merle et al. 2014). Coloration typically exhibits a spiral pattern. Lyriins are medium to large in size; many species have shells an inch or more in length, but that of Lyria lyraeformis from the coast of Kenya may reach up to 145 mm. The radula, where known, is typically unilinear with tricuspid teeth though vestigial lateral teeth are rarely present (Weaver & du Pont 1970).

Harpulina lapponica, copyright Donna Pomeroy.

Lyriini inhabit sandy or muddy substrates in shallow to moderately deep waters, up to about 100 m. I haven’t come across any records of the feeding habits of lyriins specifically, but other volutes are typically predators of other molluscs that they engulf with their large foot (Morton 1986). One wonders if the relatively narrow radula of Lyriini reflects some quirk of their diet. Do lyriins target prey whose shell has a notably narrow opening, into which their slender tongue can easily penetrate?

Systematics of Lyriini
<==Lyriini [Lyriinae]
| |--E. cumingii [=Lyria (Enaeta) cumingii]C64
| `--E. guildingii (Sowerby 1844)LB89
`--Lyria Gray 1847DK08
|--*L. nucleus (Lamarck 1811)BR17 (see below for synonymy)
|--L. branderi (Deshayes 1835)DK08
|--L. deliciosa (Montrouzier 1859)WG71 [=Voluta deliciosaH09]
| |--L. d. deliciosaW94
| `--L. d. howensis Iredale 1937W94
|--L. lamellatoplicata Darragh & Kendrick 2008DK08
|--L. leonardi Emerson 1985BC01
|--L. leslieboschae Emerson & Sage 1986BC01
|--L. mitraeformis (Lamarck 1811)WG71 (see below for synonymy)
|--L. russjenseni Emerson 1985BC01
`--L. zelandicaF27

Lyria mitraeformis (Lamarck 1811)WG71 [incl. Voluta (Lyria) grangeri Sowerby 1900S00, WG71, L. kimberi Cotton 1932W94, L. multicostata Broderip 1827W94]

*Lyria nucleus (Lamarck 1811)BR17 [=Voluta nucleus H09; incl. V. barnesiiC64, V. harpa Mawe 1823C64, W94, Lyria (Enaeta) harpaC64, L. insignita Iredale 1940W94, L. pattersonia Perry 1811WG71, L. perdicina Megerle 1829W94, L. opposita Iredale 1937W94, L. peroniana Iredale 1940WG71]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[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.

[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.

[DK08] Darragh, T. A., & G. W. Kendrick. 2008. Silicified Eocene molluscs from the Lower Murchison district, Southern Carnarvon Basin, Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 24 (3): 217–246.

[F27] Finlay, H. J. 1927. A further commentary on New Zealand molluscan systematics. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 57: 320–485.

[H09] Hedley, C. 1909. The Marine Fauna of Queensland: Address by the President of Section D. Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science: Brisbane.

[LB89] Leal, J. H., & P. Bouchet. 1989. New deep-water Volutidae from off southeastern Brazil (Mollusca: Gastropoda). Nautilus 103 (1): 1–12.

Merle, D., J.-M. Pacaud, G. Métais, A. Bartolini, R. A. Lashari, I. A. Brohi, S. H. Solangi, L. Marivaux & J.-L. Welcomme. 2014. Volutidae (Mollusca: Gastropoda) of the Lakhra Formation (earliest Eocene, Sindh, Pakistan): systematics, biostratigraphy and paleobiogeography. Zootaxa 3826 (1): 101–138.

Morton, B. 1986. The diet and prey capture mechanism of Melo melo (Prosobranchia: Volutidae). Journal of Molluscan Studies 52: 156–160.

[S00] Sowerby, G. B. 1900. New species of Mollusca of the genera Voluta, Conus, Siphonalia, and Euthria. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, series 7, 5: 439–441, pl. 11.

Weaver, C. S., & J. E. du Pont. 1970. Living Volutes: A monograph of the Recent Volutidae of the World. Delaware Museum of Natural History: Greenville (Delaware).

[W94] Wilson, B. 1994. Australian Marine Shells vol. 2. Prosobranch Gastropods. Part Two (Neogastropods). Odyssey Publishing: Kallaroo (Western Australia).

[WG71] Wilson, B. R., & K. Gillett. 1971. Australian Shells: illustrating and describing 600 species of marine gastropods found in Australian waters. A. H. & A. W. Reed: Sydney.

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