Conus mercator Linnaeus, 1758
Cypraea zonaria Gmelin, 1791
Persicula persicula Lamarck, 1822
This month our shells come from Senegal, located on the “Bulge of Africa” – the westernmost point of the continent. Senegal is midway between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to reach the bulge in 1444. In 1677 the French took control of Gorée Island, in the harbor of what is now Dakar, and used it as a base in the slave trade. Senegal then became a French possession and remained so until it gained independence.
Senegal is home to many desirable shells, but unfortunately for us, due to the ties with France, very few specimens come our way. Unlike in the Indo-Pacific Oceans where species have extended ranges, in the Atlantic virtually no species of shells are found across the ocean. The coast off Senegal and neighboring countries have their own distinct shells and most are endemic to the area.
Conus Mercator is named after the great cartologist Geradus Mercator who was the creator of the first atlas. It is very variable in pattern and that makes it fascinating to collect. Most specimens on the market come from the offshore Cape Verde Islands but ours in from the mainland. Conus Mercator typically has spire and body erosion; this is a very clean specimen. It small for a conus and this specimen is just barely 30mm.
Cypraea (zonaria) zonaria is indigenous to West Africa. It is quite variable in size, shape and color. Unlike Conus Mercator that exhibits great variety from the same location, zonarias tend to vary according to location.
The marginella family is exceptionally well represented on the Atlantic of Africa with an extensive list of specie in many different families. Perisicula periscula is quite attractive with its evenly spotted pattern.
Recent sales on ebay would put the combined value of these three shells at between $40 and $50. They were donated by Richard Kent.