Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Located in the NW. of South America, the territory is at a crossroads between The Pacific and Atlantic Oceans; Central and South America; the Amazon basin, the Northern Andes, and the Orinoco savannah: This means an enormous wealth in variety of climates and biotopes. In terms of molluscs, Colombia is extremely rich. The subject of terrestrial malacofauna is specially interesting (due to the high degree of endemism) and challenging due to the difficulty of obtaining material, specially with accurate collection data. (venturing into the wild can be very dangerous in some areas due to socio-political turmoil)
Written resources are not easy to obtain either, most texts and collections are jealously kept in local universities, where access is restricted for the public. Also many descriptions are centuries old and based on poor quality material; making id. even harder. At this point I better admit that this page is intended for viewing pleasure and not as a scientific resource. I have done my best to try and identify the species, but it has proven nearly impossible, as collection data has been lost or fabricated by middlemen, who want to protect their secret. Sometimes the name given is the one used by the supplyer.
ORTHALICIDAE - SULTANAS
This is a large group of conspicuously patterned, and colored shells, which makes them very popular with collectors. The snails are mostly large and arboreal. They occur in remote areas, with pristine vegetation in both lowland rainforests, and cloud forests. They seem to have been more common a few deacdes ago; but unfortunately most of the andean strech of the country has lost its original forests (95%) making these shells extremely rare today.
Sultana (Methorthalicus) sp.
Aprox. 3-5 cms.
These shells were all reportedly collected in Santander del Norte department; an area where the Andes slope down into the Venezuelan plains, right at the limit between the two countries. It is also a regarded as a very unstable area, that is not safe to visit. And off course I have no contacts in that area.
I saw these back in 2007, they seem to be juvenile specimens of perhaps more than one species.
Sultana cf. powisiana
63.6mm. Loboguerrero, Valle del Cauca. Colombia.
From unknown habitat. These were found back in 2007. They came from an old stock and were in battered shape; probably polished by the supplyer. Area now farmlands.
Sultana adamsoni Gray, 1833
86mm. Altiplano Cundiboyacense. Colombia.
A large, colorful and superb species, endemic to the central Colombian Andes. Unfortunately virtually all localities are now develped land. In fact this shell dates from the 1950´s.
Sultana atramentaria Pfeiffer, 1855
67.6mm. Santander del Norte. Colombia.
A heavy, lilac-tinted sultana, with a heavy lip and dark purple mouth when mature. Several shells were obtained in 2007, they came from the same area.