The Rock Shells

Today’s blog is a gallery of some of the most exquisite lowly snails in the world – the rock snails of the family Muricidae. This marine group occurs from the high tide line to nearly abyssal depths and is found the world over. It is believed that they are predators on other molluscs and barnacles, scavengers, and ectoparasites on cnidarians – but we really don’t know very much about them. They can be pests of valuable commercial shellfish beds and some nuisance species have been accidentally moved around the globe. A few Mediterranean species were the source of Royal Tyrian Dye, supporting an industry that dates back millennia. The dye was the product of a compound in the saliva of the snails that turned a deep purple when treated correctly. The dye was so expensive to make that only royalty and clergy could afford to wear it – the purple in Catholic robes and sashes was originally made this way.

The muricids are popular with collectors, with some specimens selling for thousands of dollars. There are perhaps 1,700 species and more are described all the time. Current “hot spots” for new muricid species are New Caledonia, Somalia, and Indonesia.

 

Trochia cingulata (Linnaeus, 1758) South Africa

Trochia cingulata (Linnaeus, 1758)
South Africa

Rapana venosa (Valenciennes, 1846) Italy (introduced)

Rapana venosa (Valenciennes, 1846)
Italy (introduced)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pteropurpura falcata (Sowerby, 1834) Japan

Pteropurpura falcata (Sowerby, 1834)
Japan

murhidalgoi

Murexiella hidalgoi (Crosse, 1869) Florida

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pteropurpura debruini (Lorenz, 1989) South Africa

Pteropurpura debruini (Lorenz, 1989)
South Africa

Poirieria zelandica (Quoy & Gaimard, 1833) New Zealand

Poirieria zelandica (Quoy & Gaimard, 1833)
New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicopinnatus loebbeckei (Kobelt, 1979) Philippines

Chicopinnatus loebbeckei (Kobelt, 1979)
Philippines

Haustellum haustellum (Linnaeus, 1758) Philippines

Haustellum haustellum (Linnaeus, 1758)
Philippines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Murex ternispina Lamarck, 1822 Philippines

Murex ternispina Lamarck, 1822
Philippines

Homalocantha zamboi Burch & Burch, 1960 Philippines

Homalocantha zamboi Burch & Burch, 1960
Philippines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drupa grossularia Roding, 1798 French Polynesia

Drupa grossularia Roding, 1798
French Polynesia

Murexiella bojadorensis (Locard, 1897) Senegal

Murexiella bojadorensis (Locard, 1897)
Senegal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mancinella armigera (Link, 1807) Kiribati

Mancinella armigera (Link, 1807)
Kiribati

Vokesimurex bellus (Reeve, 1845) Venezuela

Vokesimurex bellus (Reeve, 1845)
Venezuela

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morula ambrosia (Houart, 1994) Marshall Islands

Morula ambrosia (Houart, 1994)
Marshall Islands

Chicoreus setionoi Houart, 2001 Indonesia

Chicoreus setionoi Houart, 2001
Indonesia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eupleura pectinata (Hinds, 1844) Panama West

Eupleura pectinata (Hinds, 1844) Panama West

Siratus alabaster (Reeve, 1845) Philippines

Siratus alabaster (Reeve, 1845)
Philippines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicoreus strigatus (Reeve, 1849) Philippines

Chicoreus strigatus (Reeve, 1849)
Philippines

Chicoreus corrugatus (Sowerby, 1840) Israel

Chicoreus corrugatus (Sowerby, 1840)
Israel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicoreus rossiteri (Crosse, 1872) Philippines

Chicoreus rossiteri (Crosse, 1872)
Philippines

Chicoreus cervicornis (Lamarck, 1822) Australia

Chicoreus cervicornis (Lamarck, 1822)
Australia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicopinnatus celinamarumai (Kosuge, 1980) Philippines

Chicopinnatus celinamarumai (Kosuge, 1980)
Philippines

Ceratostoma burnetti (Adams & Reeve, 1849) Korea

Ceratostoma burnetti (Adams & Reeve, 1849)
Korea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boreotrophon avalonensis (Dall, 1902) California

Boreotrophon avalonensis (Dall, 1902)
California

Attiliosa nodulifera (Sowerby, 1841) Philippines

Attiliosa nodulifera (Sowerby, 1841)
Philippines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author: Dr. G. Thomas Watters is Curator of Molluscs at the Museum of Biological Diversity.

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