Strombid gastropods (including conchs, spider conchs and tibias) are amazing animals: they gallop rather than glide, have well-developed eyes, include the fastest-burrowing snails, and have served as food, musical instruments and even shelter to humans for thousands of years. Strombids also exhibit a wide range of shell morphologies, with some of the most extreme (e.g. Lambis) found today only in the Indo-West Pacific. Shell growth in strombids is determinate, allowing unambiguous identification of adult specimens, including fossils. Adult body size of strombid species span a very large range (from 20 - 375 mm; view scale photo), and size frequency distributions show striking differences between the Indo-Pacific and eastern Pacific/western Atlantic. Thus, strombids provide a special opportunity for insights into the origin of morphological novelties present in the Indo-Pacific. Working with Kaustuv Roy (a paleobiologist at UCSD), we have establish a preliminary phylogenetic framework (using mtCOI, histone H3 and the fossil record) for future work on these fascinating snails.

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