- José H. Leal
Super-Hero Among Mollusks
What can I say that hasn’t already been said about Lightfoot, 1786, the Venus Comb Murex? If you like shells and mollusks, you probably know it as one of the most elegant and celebrated species in the history of shell collecting. Venus Comb Murexes are not very rare where they live: a large area that includes the Indo-West Pacific oceans, from East Africa to eastern Melanesia. References to the species abound in the literature and on the web. They have a striking appearance, with long, harmoniously deployed spines; the species has traditionally been associated, via its English vernacular name, with the presumed hairdressing habits of Venus, the goddess of love. When formally naming the species in 1786, English naturalist John Lightfoot chose the name pecten, Latin for comb (or rake), to express an evident similarity.