[Annelida] Sabella spallanzanii trivia

Wilson, Robin via annelida%40net.bio.net (by rwilson from museum.vic.gov.au)
Mon Feb 11 19:39:29 EST 2008

The Mediterranean fan worm (Sabella spallanzanii) is a well-known
introduction via shipping to many ports and harbours in southern
Australia (and also to the Canary Islands, Indonesia and Brazil).
However, when first discovered, Sabella spallanzanii probably only
occurred in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic coast of northern
Europe. The species was named after an Italian naturalist Lazzaro
Spallanzani, well-known in his day and a widely travelled priest and
professor of natural history. Among other achievements Lazzaro
Spallanzani disproved the notion that microscopic organisms could
spontaneous generate, anticipating by 100 years the work of Louis
Pasteur. It has been a minor nuisance to taxonomists that the original
(type) specimen used to describe Sabella spallanzanii is lost, however
the remains Lazzaro Spallanzani have had greater longevity: a recent
issue of Nature reported that the anatomy collection of the University
History Museum in Pavia displays the bladder of Lazzaro Spallanzani !
Those with a macabre interest in body parts will have to visit Pavia in
northern Italy to view the remains of Professor Spallanzani, but there
is a good chance that the worm named after him can be found living on a
pier near you (if you live in southern Australia, at least).


Have a nice day everyone, 




Robin Wilson

Sciences Department

Museum Victoria

GPO Box 666E

Melbourne Vic 3001



phone +61 3 8341 7429

fax        +61 3 8341 7442

email   rwilson from museum.vic.gov.au <mailto:rwilson from museum.vic.gov.au>

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