UL biology professor Emilio Garcia has announced a new species of mollusk. The old animal with a new name is Epitonium leali, a puzzling wentletrap that can be found on Sanibel Island, Florida and other Gulf areas.
The announcement was made in the October 10, 2011 issue of the Belgian journal Novapex.
In the article, Dr. Garcia stated that the species "....is named after Dr. José H. Leal, Director of The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, Sanibel, Florida, and Editor of the prestigious malacological journal The Nautilus. This taxon honors him for his accomplishments in the field and for his willingness to help both personally and in his capacity as the Director of the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum."
Previously, the species was identified as Epitonium cf. championi.
According to Wikipedia, wentletraps are small, often white, very high-spired, predatory or ectoparasitic sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks. The word wentletrap originated in Dutch (wenteltrap), meaning "spiral staircase." They are also called "staircase shells," and "ladder shells."
Dr. Leal is thrilled by the honor. "It is great to have that elusive species named after me; I am grateful to Dr. Garcia," he said. "Having a wentletrap from Sanibel with my name makes it a very touching and meaningful tribute."
According to an article in the southwestern Florida News-Press, Leal is quoted as saying, "Actually, the museum's symbol is a wentletrap. To me it was very touching because it's a very loved group of shells for collectors, it is a local shell, it's a species that we had a lot of problems finding the name before. So when he named it after me I said, 'Oh, this is really cool.'"
The article also notes that species can honor scientists, politicians, entertainers or artists. Profanity is discouraged, as is naming a new species after oneself, Leal said. "It's really tacky," he said.
The shell is technically described Shell sculpture of delicate costae, about 10 on body whorl, and background of fine spiral threads. Similar to E. candeanum (d’Orbigny, 1842), but differs from latter species by having angles or hooks on shoulders of costae, and finer spiral sculpture. Color white, sometimes with brown bands on early whorls.