Æolididae e famiglie affini del porto di Genova & Bologna. Salvatore Trinchese, the man who fell in love with a certain sea slug.
Æolididae are a family of sea slugs, marine gastropod molluscs without shells. Most of them feed on sea anemones and have a distinctive single row of comb-shaped serrated radular teeth. This particular sea slug isn’t at all sluggish. They are rather flamboyant and, as Salvatore Trinchese would discover, very easy to fall in love with.
Trinchese (1836-1897) was born in a small town in the Italian province of Lecce. As a mature man he would fall in love with Æolididae. First however, he attended a Jesuit school in Lecce and studied medicine and surgery in Pisa. In 1860 he graduated with a scholarship allowing him to study abroad. Thus, in the same year he moved to Paris, where he worked as a researcher in the prestigious laboratories of eminent men like Claude Bernard, Émile Blanchard and Henri Milne-Edwards (father of Alphonse Milne-Edwards).
It’s not certain how they first came to cross paths, but it was during this period that Salvatore first encountered the alluring sea slug, Aeolidiidae. Immediately obsessed, he had to know everything there was to know about her. He began histological studies on the nervous system and on the systematic microscopy of gastropod molluscs.
By 1865, the all-round science polymath Salvatore was teaching at the University of Genoa. He taught mineralogy, geology, zoology and comparative anatomy before moving on to blind students with his brilliance in Bologna and in Naples where he bacame dean of the university and a city councilman.
Of course, Salvatore didn’t forget Æolididae. The sea slug had consumed his thoughts for years and he wanted to tell the world. In 1877, he published Æolididae e famiglie affini del porto di Genova & Bologna (Æolididae and related families of the ports of Genoa and Bologna).
150 years on, you can see Salvatore Trinchese’s love for Æolididae in his drawings. Alphonse Milne-Edwards