Abstract

In the Recent biota, species of the hipponicid gastropod genus Sabia that excavate characteristic pits on the outer surfaces of shells of reef-dwelling gastropods and hermit crabs occur only in the tropical Indo-West Pacific region and in adjacent warm temperate parts of Japan and Australia. I report the discovery of Sabia pits in reef-associated gastropod shells from the Cercado (late Miocene) and Gurabo (early Pliocene) Formations of the Dominican Republic. The likely culprit was Hipponix otiosa Pilsbry and Johnson, 1917, a species here reassigned to Sabia Gray, 1840. Pliocene extinction, which was far more severe in the Caribbean and elsewhere in the western Atlantic than in the Indo-West Pacific, selectively eliminated Sabia and its commensalism from Atlantic reef ecosystems. This case is one of several examples indicating the vulnerability of specialized associations to extinction-causing disturbances.

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