Whoa! Have you ever seen a GOLD-BANDED CONE (Lindaconus spurious aureofasciatus)? It’s a VERY rare CONE found in SW Florida that neither Clark nor I have ever been fortunate enough to find….yet. It’s not actually a different CONE species found locally but it’s a FREAK color form or “a rare abnormality” of the ALPHABET CONE (Conus spurious). Yep, it’s a freak alphie!
You can see here from left to right… a FLORIDA CONE, the GOLD-BANDED CONE* and the ALPHABET CONE. See how tall the spire (the tip) is on the FLORIDA CONE compared to the other two? (Update! Please see below for correct identification of this middle cone)
I am sooooo happy for Jordyn from Georgia! She found this fabshellous GOLD-BANDED CONE* last year June 1, 2013 on the Sanibel side of Blind Pass but didn’t know exactly what she had.
Jordyn and her parents Danny and Lisa went back home to Georgia and did extensive research to find out what kind of shell this was since it didn’t quite look exactly like a FLORIDA CONE and it didn’t have the spots of an ALPHABET CONE. They finally found the book The Sanibel kaleidoscope: A view of seashell variations in color, pattern, and structure which has photos of the GOLD-BANDED CONE and describes this very rare shell so it was their best guess that’s what they had. They knew they would be coming back to vacation on Sanibel this year (as they do each year), so they brought the CONE with them this week to get it identified.
Clark and I walked the beach at Gulfside City Park during low tide last evening and just happened to run into Danny. OMG I was so excited that he had just found a JUNONIA on the beach in front of Sanddollar Condos. This is a very lucky family!
This is how I learned about Jordyn’s CONE… right after Danny told me about the JUNONIA, he told me about the GOLD-BANDED CONE that Jordyn found last year. I just about came out of my skin when he told me they brought the shell back to Sanibel and he could show it to me. I was thrilled when they ran up to their rental unit to get it. Yowza! It sure looks like a variation to me since I remembered seeing a similar shell in that same Harlan Wittkopt book The Sanibel kaleidoscope (I love that book too!). After taking photos of her shell, I went home to do research as well.
When I saw more photos of various types of GOLD-BANDED CONES on Gastropods.com and after looking at the 4th photo down on this page CLICK HERE , I was pretty convinced that, yes, it was this rare shell indeed. The funny thing is… if you noticed above that I put a * behind the identification of the GOLD-BANDED CONE since the jury is still debating whether in fact that it is truly a GOLD-BANDED CONE or not. MurexKen, Larry Strange, Dr Leal and a few other shell buddies have mixed reviews. Half say “Yes” it is and half can’t give it a positive I.D. of GOLD-BANDED to this CONE. That’s what makes this so dang fun and interesting! There are hundreds of different CONE species around the world so it’s really hard to know when it is this “rare” because it might be confused by a shell from the Philippines (for example) which got placed on our beach because perhaps it was bought for a decoration for a beach party. Sooooo, since I’m not a scientist and I’m not going to look into the DNA of this shell, in my book…. it’s a GOLD-BANDED CONE (oh well, it’s not a Gold-Banded Cone LOL- See below). I’ve been looking for one of these shells for years!
I’m incredibly happy for Jordyn and her family so if there was any time to say “Shellzam!” this would be it!
So here goes…. SHELLZAM!
Congratshellations to this beautiful and extremely awesome family.
PS- I think it time to go looking through all of our CONES just to make sure we didn’t overlook one of the lighter banded ones shown on Gastropods photos 3, 5, 7 and 8 . If you find one, let us know here in the comments or on iLoveShelling Facebook– it’ll be fun to see how rare they really are!
UPDATE: JUNE 6, 2014 1:09 PM EST-
It has been absolutely amazing how many conversations I’ve had with different folks around the world about this CONE shell. The good news is… I have one photo of three… I said THREE… (yes!… 3) GOLD-BANDED CONES so we can compare Jordyn’s shell. This next photo is just three out of the four GOLD-BANDED CONES that my lucky friend Clair has found over the years. Clair took this photo and graciously let me use it on this post. Holy Cowrie, Batman! Thank you Clair! Her fourth shell is pictured in Harlan Wittkopt’s book (I mentioned above). She is Clairly The Cone Goddess…
So this brings us back to the question… Is Jordyn’s CONE truly a GOLD-BANDED CONE? I had *ed the ID because there was already some controversy even after I asked some other long time shellers and experts. Yesterday, while visiting Larry’s shop Seashells.com (on the corner of Periwinkle and Fitzhugh on Sanibel) I snapped a few pictures with my iPhone of an INDO-PACIFIC shell that also looked like Jordyn’s shell. Notice that the price is only $1, Which that normally means its a pretty common shell on the other side of the planet.
Then I looked at the apex (the tip of the spire) and saw that it was brownish like Jordyn’s. I know that judging a shell by it’s color isn’t the best way to ID a shell but it sure does make you wanna say Hmmmmm. Now that Susan H and David Carroll thought that Jordyn’s CONE was a OAK CONE (Conus quercinus), this may very well be the shell I photographed with my iPhone yesterday.
So I think this might be a real buzz-kill for lots of us that were hoping JORDYN found a GOLD-BANDED CONE, but I think the jury is coming to a solid conclusion. After seeing Clair’s photo, the links Susan and David provided and seeing the shell I saw yesterday with a $1 sticker on it, I believe now that Jordyn’s shell is an OAK CONE from the Indo-Pacific area… which I call a “Wedding Shell”. It probably came in a bag of shells someone bought for a beach wedding for decoration then got washed out with the tide then washed back in for Jordyn to find. Even so! This is such a wonderful, positive conversation with folks around the world who all love shells and shelling and we can all learn together about what washes up on our shores in SW Florida and the world.