AtlantaRoger R. Seapy
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Atlanta is the type genus of the Atlantidae, containing 20 of the 22 species in the family (the other two genera, Protatlanta and Oxygyrus, are monospecific). All species but one (A. californiensis from the temperate North Pacific) are found in tropical to subtropical waters. Most (12) are cosmopolitan in geographic distribution, although three are Indo-Pacific, two are found only in the Indian Ocean, two only in the Atlantic Ocean, and one in the Pacific Ocean.
An atlantid with:
- Shell and keel calcareous.
- Larval shell becomes spire of adult shell.
- Eye morphology. Three eye types (termed a, b and c; after Richter, 1961) are present that differ primarily in patterns of pigmentation. Types a and b have a large part of the eye wall that lacks pigment forming a window. These two eye types differ in the absence (type a) or presence (type b) of a narrow transverse slit (extension of the distal part of the window) that almost completely separates distal from proximal pigmentation. Type c lacks a window. Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Figure. The three types of eye morphologies (a, b and c) in Atlanta. Drawing modified from Richter and Seapy (1999).
Figure. Two (Types b and c) of the three eye types in Atlanta. Left - Type b eye of Atlanta peroni, Hawaiian waters. Right - Type c eye of Atlanta helicinoides, Hawaiian waters . A representative photograph of an animal with a Type a eye is not available. Photographs copyright © 2005 R. Seapy.
- Operculum morphology. Three types of opercula (termed Types a, b, c; after Richter, 1961) are found in Atlanta. The third type (c) differs from the first two (a and b) in the number of turns of the spiral (larval) gyre (shaded blue in drawings below); "single" in the mono-gyre and "a few" in the oligo-gyre opercula. The two types of oligogyre opercula differ in the relative size of the gyre region; hence, the prefixes macro- and micro-.
- Spire whorl number. The shell of Atlanta consists of three sequentially-deposited portions; a dome-shaped embryonic shell (protoconch I; shaded yellow below), a larval shell (protoconch II; shaded blue below) and the adult shell (teleoconch). In postmetamorphic animals, the number of whorls comprising the teleoconch increases with growth, while the number of whorls in the protoconch (forming the spire of the adult shell) is constant. The location on the shell where the protoconch ends and the teleoconch begins is often difficult to determine, but its approximate location is necessary in determining the number of whorls comprising the shell spire; an important species characteristic. The number of spire whorls ranges from two and one-half to six. Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Figure. Left: Larval shell of Atlanta plana, Hawaiian waters. Scale bar = 0.1 mm. The embryonic shell (protoconch I) is indicated in yellow. The remainder of the larval shell (protoconch II) is shaded blue. Right: Adult shell of Atlanta plana, Hawaiian waters. Scale bar = 0.5 mm. The embryonic and larval shells are colored blue to distinguish them from the remainder of the shell. Scanning electron micrographs copyright © 2005 R. Seapy.
- Spire shape and ornamentation. Spire shape is highly variable and can often serve as a distinctive species characterisitic. Examples include the tall, turreted spire of A. turriculata, the tilted (or "inclined") spire in the A. inclinata and A. gibbosa species groups, and the large, low rounded and elevated spire of A. inflata and A. helicinoides. Similarly, spire ornamentation can be very distinctive, ranging from smooth (e.g., the A. lesueuri species group and three of the members of the A. peroni species group) to ornamented by low, elevated spiral ridges (e.g., A. inflata, A. helicinoides, and A. plana), and highly ornate (e.g., A. fusca, A. echinogyra and A. turriculata).
Nineteen of the 20 species of Atlanta are combined into seven species groups (after Richter and Seapy, 1999), each of which is characterized by similarities in overall shell and shell spire morphologies, and in some cases body coloration. Members of each group usually share the same opercular type and, in many cases, the same eye type. The table below summarizes this information.
|Species group||Group characteristics||Species*||Species characteristics||Shell diameter (except keel)||Number of spire whorls||Eye type||Opercular type|
|A. fusca group||Shell small with tall, rounded keel; spire strongly elevated and sculptured, with complex ornamentation and a prominent spiral ridge; color darkens with age.||A. fusca||Spire tall conical; color yellowish-brown to dark brown; circumglobal||<2 mm||4||a||a|
|A. turriculata||Spire tall turreted; color yellowish- to reddish-brown grading into clear outer shell whorl; Indo-Pacific.||<2 mm||4-1/4||a||a|
|A. inflata group||Shell either inflated (width ca. 40% of shell diameter) or flat; spire large (relative to shell size) and low with shallow sutures or small and low; spire surface smooth to sculptured (with evenly-spaced spiral ridges).||A. inflata||Shell inflated; body whorl flat-oval in cross section; keel high, truncate; spire with large with low spiral ridges, varible in expression; colorless to faintly yellowish or reddish-brown; circumglobal.||<1.5 mm||4-1/2||a||c|
|A. helicinoides||Shell inflated: body whorl nearly circular in cross section; keel of low to moderate height, rounded; spire large with prominent spiral ridges, variable in expression; yellow or purple-violet; circumglobal.||<2 mm||4-1/2||c||c|
|A. californiensis||Shell flattened; keel of moderate height, truncate, and with red-brown base; spire small (relative to shell size), low conical to globular, and smooth; colorless to uniformly or mottled, light yellow, brown or violet; North Pacific Ocean.||<3.5 mm||3-1/4||a||c|
|A. lesueuri group||Shell spire extremely small; after metamorphosis a rapidly-expanding, single whorl (teleoconch) is formed (the adult shell consists of only 3-1/2 whorls).||A. lesueuri||Shell entirely transparent; spire low and conical with prominent (deep) sutures; keel high, truncate; circumglobal.||<6 mm||2-1/2||b||b|
|A. oligogyra||Shell faint pink to yellow; spire low and rounded with shallow sutures: keel of moderate height, rounded; circumglobal.||<3 mm||2-1/2||a||b|
|A. peroni group||Shell flat, of moderate to large size; spire small.||A. peroni||Spire low, rounded; keel of moderate height, truncate; shell colorless, becoming faintly yellow in large specimens; circumglobal.||<10 mm||3-1/2||b||b|
|A. fragilis||Shell fragile (thin-walled), transparent and completely colorless; keel high; Atlantic Ocean.||<9 mm||3-1/2||b||b|
|A. rosea||Spire nearly globular; spire whorls difficult to distinguish due to extremely shallow sutures of first two and one-half whorls; color faintly yellow; species name based on bright pink larval shell; circumglobal.||<5 mm||3-1/2||b||b|
|A. frontieri||Spire low, with first and second whorls elevated, forming a low cone; distinctive thin, elevated spiral ridge along outer margin of spire whorls; keel of moderate height, rounded; colorless; Indian Ocean.||<5.5 mm||4-1/2||b||b|
|A. gaudichaudi group||Shell flat; shell spire small, with low conical shape. ||A. gaudichaudi||Spire smooth; keel of moderate height, truncate and with a brown base; shell colorless; circumglobal.||<3 mm||3-1/4||b||b|
|A. plana||Spire low conical with weak, spiral ridges; spire sutures violet; keel moderately low and rounded, with a brown base; Indo-Pacific.||<3.5 mm||3-1/2||a||b|
|A. selvagensis||Spire very low conical, whorls with to without weak spiral ridges; spire sutures well defined, pink to light violet; keel base brown; eastern North Atlantic||<1.5 mm||3-3/4 ||a ||b |
|A. echinogyra||Spire low conical, slightly tilted relative to shell plane, with prominent spiral ridges and secondary sculpture; spire reddish-brown and teleoconch colorless; Indo-Pacific.||<2.5 mm||3-3/4||a||c |
|A.inclinata group||Shell spire large, globose (bee-hive shaped), strongly inclined relative to shell plane, with shallow sutures and numerous small tuberculae on the surface; keel moderately high and rounded; internal shell wall of radially-arranged lines.||A. inclinata||Spire with small tuberculae scattered on surface; spire weak rose color and last shell whorl colorless; circumglobal.||<7 mm||4-1/2||b||c|
|A. tokiokai||Spire with spirally-arranged rows of low tuberculae; colorless to light yellow; circumglobal.||<3 mm||5-1/2||b||c|
|A. gibbosa group||Shell spire large and high; internal shell wall without radially-arranged lines; shell completely transparent and colorless.||A. gibbosa||Spire moderately inclined relative to shell plane, with a broad base and pointed apex; circumglobal? (presence in Atlantic Ocean uncertain).||<4 mm||6||b||b|
|A. meteori||Spire strongly inclined relative to shell plane, conical and steep sided; keel high, truncate; circumglobal.||<4 mm||5-3/4||b||b|
*One species, Atlanta peresi, is excluded from the table. It was described by Frontier (1966) from the western Indian Ocean. Although its adult shell morphology and opercular type were characterized by Frontier, its eye and radular morphologies are unknown. Subsequent studies of the atlantid heteropods from the Indian Ocean by Richter (1974) and Seapy et al. (2003) did not record A. peresi, and the species' validity remains in question. The interested reader is referred to Richter and Seapy (1999) for a further description and discussion.
Frontier, S. 1966. Notes morphologiques sur les Atlanta récoltées dans le plancton de Nosy Bé (Madagascar). Cah. ORSTOM, Sér. Océanogr. 4: 131-139.
Richter, G. 1961. Die Radula der Atlantiden (Heteropoda, Prosobranchia) und ihre Bedeutung für die Systematik und Evolution der Famiie. Morphol. Ökol. Tiere 50: 163-238.
Richter, G. 1974. Die Heteropoden der "Meteor"-Expedition in den Indischen Ozean, 1964/65. "Meteor" Forsch.-Ergebnisse 17(D): 55-78.
Richter, G. and R. R. Seapy. 1999. Heteropoda, pp. 621-647. In: D. Boltovskoy (ed.), South Atlantic Zooplankton. Leiden: Backhuys Publ.
Seapy, R. R. 1990. The pelagic family Atlantidae (Gastropoda: Heteropoda) from Hawaiian waters: a taxonomic survey. Malacologia 32: 107-130.
Seapy, R. R., C. M. Lalli and F. E. Wells. 2003. Heteropoda from western Australian waters, pp. 513-546. In: F. E. Wells, D. I. Walker and D. S. Jones (eds.), The marine flora and fauna of Dampier, Western Australia. Perth: Western Australia Museum.
Roger R. Seapy
California State University, Fullerton, California, USA
Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Roger R. Seapy at
Page copyright © 2005
- First online 19 February 2005
- Content changed 24 June 2007
Citing this page:
Seapy, Roger R. . 2007. Atlanta. Version 24 June 2007 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Atlanta/28752/2007.06.24 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/