- José H. Leal
Shell of the Week: The Hawk-wing Conch
Lobatus raninus (Gmelin, 1791), resembles its relative, the Milk Conch, but the shell is smaller (reaching about 120 mm, or 4.7 inches), and the flared outer lip of adults rarely surpasses the spire apex (the “tip” of the shell). The species is one of many in the Strombidae (the family of true conchs) known to display dwarfism. Dwarf forms show all the features of mature individuals such as thickened and flared outer lip, but at a much smaller size than expected for that species. At least one dwarf shell in the Museum collection measures only 40 mm (about 1.6 inches). The species is found in the Caribbean, east coast of Florida, Florida Keys, and in parts of the Gulf of Mexico. It is not found, however, along the beaches of Southwest Florida.