Photo of the day (36): Flood deposits of Danube

Flood deposits include flood debris and shells of molluscs. Such assemblages of dead remnants of molluscs are called thanatocoenoses. Shells may com from any locality anywhere in the upper river drainage, but you can get shells of some species, that can not be obtained easily.

Flood debris from the Danube river in Slovakia:
Flood deposits of Danube in SlovakiaIt may seem, that there are only valves of a freshwater bivalve Corbicula fluminea.
flood deposits of Danube

But after a closer look there are many gastropod shells too. The following species of gastropods can be recognized on the photo:

  • Esperiana esperi – one oblong shell with dots in the right center
  • Esperiana daudebartii acicularis – one oblong shell on the top
  • Theodoxus fluviatilis – a small black shell with white dots in the center
  • Theodoxus danubialis – larger striped shells with a flat apertural plain
  • Lithoglyphus naticoides – white globular shells without the apertural plain

flood deposits of Danube - detail

There are also bivalves:

  • Corbicula fluminea – brown rounded ribbed valves
  • Dreissena polymorpha – two triangular valves on the top
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Photo of the day (34): Theodoxus fluviatilis

Theodoxus fluviatilis is a freshwater snail living in rivers and brackish waters in Europe. It belong to nerites, the family Neritidae.

Malacological books usually depict Theodoxus fluviatilis like a shell only. The apertural view:

Theodoxus fluviatilis 12

The width of this shell is 8 mm and the height of the shell is 6 mm. Shells are sometimes corroded. The lateral view:

Theodoxus fluviatilis 13

There are remnants of two egg capsules on the shell. Snails lays eggs on solid things like stones, empty shells and shells of live Theodoxus. It is useful because such eggs are much more guarded than other eggs on non-living things.

The shell can be closed by the calcareous operculum (this operculum belong to the above shell). The length of the operculum is 4 mm and the width of the operculum is 3 mm including the rib. Outer side of the operculum:

Theodoxus fluviatilis 14 operculum

Inner side of the operculum shows the rib and some depression near the rib.

Theodoxus fluviatilis 15 operculum

Another shell of Theodoxus fluviatilis: the width of this shell is 8.5 mm and the height of the shell is 6 mm. There are also two remnants of egg capsules.

Theodoxus fluviatilis 11

Live nerite snails are not easy to watch, because they are tightly attached to stones and they usually stretch tentacles and eyes only. The width of the shell is 7 mm and the height of the shell is 5 mm.

Theodoxus fluviatilis 09

When the snail is not crawling, its foot is rounded as a suction cup:

Theodoxus fluviatilis 10

Another Theodoxus fluviatilis snail with a different pattern on the shell. Such variability is typical for nerites and these variable patterns developed for crypsis (crypsis is a type of camouflage). The width of the shell is 7.5 mm and the height of the shell is 5.5 mm.

Dorsal view:

Theodoxus fluviatilis 03

Right side view:

Theodoxus fluviatilis 01

Frontal view:

Theodoxus fluviatilis 02

Two left side views:

Theodoxus fluviatilisTheodoxus fluviatilis 07

Ventral view of crawling snail (there is a bubble):

Theodoxus fluviatilis 06

Species in the Neritidae family have one gill (ctenidium) for breathing on the left side of the body. It is in the mantle cavity. The gill is called bipectinate, that means that it have two margins toothed like a comb. I was lucky to get one photo of a gill of a live snail though the partly translucent thick shell:

Theodoxus fluviatilis 04

Detail cropped from the previous photo:

Theodoxus fluviatilis 05

References

Barroso C. X., Matthews-Cascon H. & Simone L. R. L. 2012: Anatomy of Neritina zebra from Guyana and Brazil (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Neritidae). Journal of Conchology 41(1): 49-64.
(I consider this reference useful for the terminology of anatomy of nerites.)