AMPHIBULIMIDAE - PLEKOCHEILUS

Are medium-sized to large terrestrial snails, that have a plump, inflated and elongated shell, with a very large aperture. Most species are inconspicuously colored in shades of earth, that help them blend with their ground environment. These innhabit a wide range of habitats, but are mostly associated with higher altitudes in the mountain ranges, cloud forests and paramos. When alive, the snails hide deep in dead leaves and thick forest vegeteation, they have cryptic behaviour. Most shells are found dead. Some species are extremely rare and endemic.

My ids are based on:

Breure, Bram & Borrero, Francisco. (2011). The Amphibulimidae (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Orthalicoidea) from Colombia and adjacent areas. Zootaxa. 3054. 1-59. 

P. succinoides Petit de la Sussaye, 1840

33.5-38.8mm. Tequendama, Cundinamarca. Colombia.

An extremely beautiful little species, that is also quite variable in color and pattern. The translucent shell is thin and light-weight, with an enormous mouth and a very short umbilicus. The base color is light pink. When fresh, it is covered by a coppery cuticle, that is usually decorated with white flammules and tents. The species is not rare, but since it is food for local kites, perfect ones are hard to find.

Plekocheilus gibbonius Lea, 1838

92mm. Santander del Norte. Colombia.

The holly grail for local Plekocheilus enthusiasts, This is indeed a very large and globose species, with an extremely wide mouth, compared to the body size. The species itself has been reported from a series of Andean locations in the country; but there is no precise data available. This particular shell was obtained by a man whose track was lost. It was the only decent piece. No new shells since 1990´s

Plekocheilus episcopalis Pfeiffer, 1855 Group

A rather large species with several forms. These all occur in the Eastern Cordillera, near Bogotá.

From left to right:

P. episcopalis af. episcopalis Pfeiffer, 1855. 48mm. Pasca. Cundinamarca. Colombia: very dead shell found in an area that was cleared for farming. Adult size noticeably smaller, that the other two forms.

P. episcopalis af. corticosus Sowerby, 1895. 65mm. Gachetá. Cundinamarca. Colombia. Recently found by a friend in an area near the capital, reportedly uncommon. Found fresh dead with intact periostracum.

P. episcopalis af. auriformis Da Costa, 1904. 69mm. Gachetá. Cundinamarca. Colombia. A very large, elegant shell with a slender spire, that was found in pretty good shape as a sub-fossil, burried in clay. No fresh specimens have been sighted yet.

Plekocheilus elaeodes Pfeiffer, 1851

42mm. Paipa, Boyacá. Colombia.

A handsome, medium-sized, globose species. The shell is rather thin and semi-translucent, and the color varies from reddish to purplish brown. Some faint marks in the early whorls might be present. The lip has a magenta hue, and the last whorl has a bluish veil. This looks like a ripe red globe grape! very attractive species. 

Plekocheilus pulicarius Reeve, 1848

29.6mm. Bogotá. Colombia.

A gorgeous little shell from Bogotá´s Eastern mountains. This uncommon species is quite similar to P. virgatus in coloration, but adult size is shorter and plumper, with a heavier, thicker lip. The markings are also more pied and sparse rather than consisting of close-spaced dashes. Notice the golden-brown periostracum.

Plekocheilus sp.

44mm. Tequendama area. Colombia.

A very distinct species, which so far I have not been able to identify. These occur together with Plekocheilus succinoides, but are much scarcer. The shells have largish size and are visually similar to Plekocheilus virgatus, but the apperture broadens towards the canal and the base color is brown, not white.

Plekocheilus virgatus Pilsbry, 1935 Group

A thin-shelled, rather light-weight species, that has a pure white shell, attractively marked by dark brown dots and zig-zags. It has a bright pink lip and an even pinker apex. When fresh, the shell is covered by a thin, translucent yellowish- brown cuticle. The species occurs in appreciable numbers locally, and dead shells can be found easily. Large, perfect specimens are rather uncommon.

From left to right:

41.2mm. Mondoñedo, Cundinamarca. Colombia: super fresh shell, with full perio; one of the best I have seen.

38.9mm. Mondoñedo, Cundinamarca. Colombia: exceptional amounts of pink in this dead-found and eroded specimen; a good example of the condition these are usually found in.

45.3mm. Bogotá. Eastern Cordillera. Colombia: This fantastic shell (alas the nasty bird attack) was found recently by a friend. It looks close to Mondoñedo virgatus but the shell is larger, extremely dark purple-brown, and translucent, with thinner, closer zic-zacs. 

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