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  • José H. Leal

Children That Don't Look Like Their Famous Parents

The photos below show two distinctive stages in the life of the renowned Atlantic Triton Trumpet, Charonia variegata, a large marine snail that can be found along the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and parts of East Florida. Sometimes, when you are at a loss as to the identity of a larval or juvenile shell, you may want to “find the missing pieces of the puzzle,” the intermediary stages, or a growth series, linking that young shell to the mature, adult form.

This is exactly what we did a few years ago, after finding an unidentified shell in the Museum collection. That 3/8-inch shell, shown here on the right, looks nothing like the 13-inch, adult shell of the same species depicted on the left. In the juvenile shell, the brown part (on “top”) is what remained of the larval shell, made by the snail while living as a free-living, open-water larva that can be carried by ocean currents from one location to another. And, yet, they represent the same species! Like Father, Unlike Son, Like Mother, Unlike Daughter.


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