Helix ophelia Reeve, 1854,

Brook, Fred J. & Ablett, Jonathan D., 2019, Type material of land snails (Mollusca: Gastropoda) described from New Zealand by taxonomists in Europe and North America between 1830 and 1934, and the history of research on the New Zealand land snail fauna from 1824 to 1917, Zootaxa 4697 (1), pp. 1-117: 97-98

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Helix ophelia Reeve, 1854


Helix ophelia Reeve, 1854 

Pl. 15, fig. E

Reeve, (1851–1854) 1854. Conchologia iconica, 7: species 1345, pl. 191, fig. 1345.

Type material: Original description based on one or more specimens in the Cuming collection; type material not found in NHMUK collections in 2018, whereabouts unknown  .

Type locality: Unknown, stated as ‘Australia’ by Reeve (1854 [in 1851–1854]: species 1345), but possibly from New Zealand (see below)  .

Previous illustrations of type material: Reeve (1854 [in 1851–1854]: pl. 191, fig. 1345 [reproduced here in pl. 15, fig. E]); Cox (1868a [after Reeve 1854]: pl. 17, fig. 17); Tryon (1886 [after Reeve 1854]: pl. 62, fig. 42).

Remarks: Helix ophelia Reeve, 1854  and H. ophelia Pfeiffer, 1855  were probably based on the same type material in H. Cuming’s collection. Pfeiffer evidently intended to publish his description in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London issue for 1854 (see Reeve 1854 [in 1851–1854]: species 1345; Pfeiffer 1859: 30), but publication was delayed until 1855 ( Pfeiffer 1855b: 146), and was pre-empted by Reeve (1854). Authorship has previously been attributed to Pfeiffer (1855) (e.g., Cox 1868a: 34, 1868b: 68; Hector 1873: 6; Hutton 1880: 18; Tryon 1886: 211; Suter 1913b: 658; Powell 1979: 316; Spencer et al. 2009: 216), but Reeve (1854) has priority. There has been considerable confusion over the provenance and identity of H. ophelia  . It was listed as an Australian species by Reeve (1854 [in 1851–1854]: species 1345) and Pfeiffer (1859: 29), and as possibly Australian by Pfeiffer (1855b: 146). Cox (1868a: 34, pl. 9, fig. 4) recorded and illustrated a shell from Cape York, northern Australia, which he interpreted as matching Pfeiffer’s (1855), but not Reeve’s (1854), description of Helix ophelia  . Pfeiffer’s species was also recorded from Cape York by Cox (1868a: 34, 1868b: 68) and Hedley (1888: 64), but was not in- cluded in Australian faunal lists by Iredale (1937a, 1937b, 1938) and subsequent authors. Pfeiffer (1868: 80) listed the distribution of H. ophelia  as ‘Bay of Islands, Novae Seelandiae’, apparently based on specimens obtained by Ferdinand von Hochstetter, during his visit to New Zealand in 1858–1859 (i.e., not part of the type material). It was subsequently recorded from both New Zealand and Australia by Hector (1873: 6), Hutton (1880: 18 —albeit with the notation: “Probably a mistake in the New Zealand habitat”), Pfeiffer & Clessin (1881: 80) and Tryon (1886: 211), and from New Zealand only (e.g., Hutton 1884b: 202; Hedley & Suter 1893: 640; Suter 1904a: 63, 1913b: 658; Powell 1979: 316; Spencer et al. 2009: 216). Following Hutton (1884b: 202) it has generally been assigned to the endemic New Zealand genus Therasia Hutton, 1883  . However, in the absence of type material the identity and geographic distribution of Helix ophelia Reeve, 1854  cannot be reliably determined, and this taxon should be removed from New Zealand faunal lists.

Systematic position: Not determined. Helix ophelia (Pfeiffer, 1855)  is a junior primary homonym and an objective junior synonym of Helix opheli  a Reeve, 1852.

Distribution: Not known.


Natural History Museum, London