PAGE REWRITE IN PROGRESS
MUREX (MURICIDAE) & TRITONS (RANELLIDAE)
1. MUREX SHELLS (Muricidae)
This is a vast family of shells worldwide, with many subspecies, each of which has many regional variations. Or even variations of the same subspecies on the same beach. Many have beautiful delicate spines or intricate shapes and elaborate patterns, like the pacific one shown
These molluscs are described as ‘voracious rock scavengers’ and exhibit uninhibited psychopathic tendencies. If you have a nervous disposition, stop reading here; Sam Peckinpah missed a great film collaboration with Jacques Cousteau with these vicious little creatures
10 ESSENTIAL YET GRISLY MUREX FACTS
- Murex are highly carnivorous with rasping teeth, and drilling equipment for boring into the shells of their prey
- A determined Murex may take up to 5 days to drill into its prey
- Murex also use their foot to smother prey, or to crush it by using suction power
- They eat clams by hoovering them up with their foot and smashing them on rocks to get at the occupant
- They happily eat sea-floor carrion and sea-kill
- Murex act in packs to carry out raids on unsuspecting beds of clams, which they feast on avidly
- They are sexually wanton. Females store sperm from different males for many months, eventually producing embryos with different dads (I’m not making this up. I would like to have done so)
- Cannibalism occurs. The kids are equally prone to extreme delinquency and are happy to eat each other when peckish
- Some species of murex secrete a fluid that is believed to be used to drug their prey into paralysis
- That same fluid (Murex / Mucus) is also used as a dye, ‘Tyrian’ or ‘Royal’ Purple, which can be ‘milked’ from a living murex (the Aztecs & Phoenicians did this). I’ll pass on that
NEW: VIDEO of how to obtain dye from a Murex
2. TRITON SHELLS (RANELLIDAE)
KASIA’S TRITON TROPHY FROM CASUARINA, ABACO
Here is another shell from Kasia’s beachcombing in the Casuarina Point area on Abaco. I’ve never seen one like this. I thought it was a TROPHON, a variety of the huge MUREX family. As I wrote, there are more than 30 types of trophon world-wide, many with a similar configuration, though I hadn’t managed to find one with a similar colouring and shell growth-pattern yet. I invited confirmation or correction, which Colin Redfern kindly provided. It is in fact a fine example of a…
DOG-HEAD TRITON Cymatium cynocephalum
ANGULAR TRITON Cymatium femorale A different sort of triton found by Kasia
Thank you! You have helped me identify my own mystery shell from a beach in Bermuda – Dog-Head Triton. It’s a very young juvenile version of yours.
A pleasure! I’m not great with shell ID (other than the obvious ones); and some are easily confused. I’m lucky that a shell expert kindly follows the exploits at Rolling Harbour and corrects the mistakes… All the best from Bahamas to Bermuda. RH
I haven’t understood your follow-up. It’s all in the video, from 0:45 onwards. It shows it better than I can explain it. rh (note: for some reason the order of your 2 queries has been transposed)
Can anyone tell me what the origin or meaning of the name “trunculus” is? Why is the Murex trunculus so named?
Hi. Thanks for raising this query. ‘Trunculus’ is the Latin for ‘a bit or small piece’, esp. cut from a body. Murex Trunculus is also known as Hexaplex Trunculus. It is the species of Murex from which the purple dye is extracted.Here is the Wiki entry for it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hexaplex_trunculus
I have also added a short video showing extraction of the dye.
Thanks for this. But how do you get from small bit to the snail? Can you think of a connection or characteristic of the trunculus that this corresponds to?