Conus boui Da Motta, 1988 Two species under the same name ? (2003)
Author : Touitou David 

First, I would like to come back on a few points concerning this lovely specie named "recently" as Conus boui (from Mr Bou's name) by Mr Da Motta in 1988 :

This specie seems to be endemic from Martinique island (Caribbean). Never any other specimen were found elsewhere in the Caribbean (and of course in the world).

It's Habitat is around 25-35m usually, but it can be found sometimes in 10m depth. It seems to be like C. daucus a worm-killer species. It is a small shell wich can reach 40mm though.

While i was in Martinique (for 18 months), I had the chance to collect this rare shell beached, fresh dead and live. I saw many specimens dead and only 4 live.

When you have a bunch of those, you can at first sight see a difference betwen shells : the color. Some of my specimens have a general red color and some have a yellow one. Of course the drawings on the shell are always very different from one specimen to another. But the main difference between them is the color.


Conus boui, red & yellow variations from Martinique
Conus boui, red & yellow variations from Martinique


This fact striked me while I was there. But the only mean to be sure that those shells could belong to too different species or sub-species, would be to analyse DNA. The shells are too close to reveal this. But another interesting point is : the animal.

Does the animal have also a different color wich could make us think it is different ?
Well, sometime we have a lot of chance ! This time was mine. I found both of them live. And ?
And the animals have different colors ! It is astonishing ! Check the pictures.


Conus boui, red specimen, Martinique Conus boui, yellow specimen, Martinique


This fact is striking on those two pictures i made in my small aquarium, in Martinique.
After this, we could easily think that we are in front of two species or subpecies or whatever. BUT, I must say that i have seen this with C. daucus (Hwass in Bruguière, 1792) also, wich C. boui seems related to. I found some very clear orange ones that had an animal very clear and some with dark red shell & animal color, like showed on the two pictures below (look at the syphon).


C. daucus yellow specimen, Martinique C. daucus red specimen, Martinique


To sum up, C. boui (maybe like C. daucus), can be have two different colors : shell & animal can be red or yellow. Actually it is impossible to solve this important problem.

For that purpose, i sent 2 years ago both specimens in alcool 95°, to M. Thomas Dudda (who moved at this time and could not do the job) for DNA analysis. I know that M. Dudda now works with M. Kohn (who actually works on volume II of Manual of living Conidae). I am waiting. If i have any info, i will surely add it on this page. So i hope this year 2004 will solve this interesting problem. mr Dudda shoul get his hands on the samples soon !!! And maybe we'll have both Conus boui & "Conus pseudoboui"...

If you have any comment, please mail me and i'll insert your message on the website.

The samples (with Martinique coneshells) just
before they get into the parcel sent to Mr Dudda.