Muricidae

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Muricidae
Chicoreus palmarosae.jpg
Shell of Chicoreus palmarosae
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Subclass: Caenogastropoda
Order: Neogastropoda
Superfamily: Muricoidea
Family: Muricidae
Rafinesque, 1815
Subfamilies

See text

Muricidae is a large and varied taxonomic family of small to large predatory sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks, commonly known as murex snails or rock snails. With about 1,600 living species, the Muricidae represent almost 10% of the Neogastropoda. Additionally, 1,200 fossil species have been recognized. [1] Numerous subfamilies are recognized, although experts disagree about the subfamily divisions and the definitions of the genera. Many muricids have unusual shells which are considered attractive by shell collectors and by interior designers.

Contents

Shell description

Muricid shells are variably shaped, generally with a raised spire and strong sculpture with spiral ridges and often axial varices (typically three or more varices on each whorl), also frequently bearing spines, tubercles, or blade-like processes. Periostracum is absent in this family. The aperture is variable in shape; it may be ovate to more or less contracted, with a well-marked anterior siphonal canal that may be very long. The shell's outer lip is often denticulated inside, sometimes with a tooth-like process on its margin. The columella is smoothish to weakly ridged. The operculum is corneous and of variable thickness, with the nucleus near the anterior end or at about midlength of the outer margin.

Many muricids have episodic growth, which means their shells grow in spurts, remaining the same size for a while (during which time the varix develops) before rapidly growing to the next size stage. The result is the series of above mentioned varices on each whorl.

A mass of muricid egg capsules in a tidepool in Central California Eggs capsules from whelk.jpg
A mass of muricid egg capsules in a tidepool in Central California

Life habits

Most species of muricids are carnivorous, active predators that feed on other gastropods, bivalves, and barnacles. The access to the soft parts of the prey is typically obtained by boring a hole through the shell by means of a softening secretion and the scraping action of the radula. Because of their carnivory, some species may be considered pests because they can cause considerable destruction both in exploited natural beds of bivalves, and in farmed areas of commercial bivalves.

Muricids lay eggs in protective, corneous capsules, the size and shape of which vary by species. From these capsules the crawling juveniles, or more rarely planktonic larvae, hatch.

Historical value

Members of the family were harvested by early Mediterranean peoples, with the Phoenicians possibly the first to do so, to extract an expensive, vivid, stable dye known as Tyrian purple, imperial purple, or royal purple.

The fossil record

The family Muricidae first appears in the fossil record during the Aptian age of the Cretaceous period.

Subfamilies

Numerous Hexaplex trunculus for sale in a fishmarket in Spain Hexaplex trunculus.jpg
Numerous Hexaplex trunculus for sale in a fishmarket in Spain
Museum specimens of Chicoreus palmarosae (Lamarck, 1822), Naturalis Naturalis Biodiversity Center - RMNH.MOL.129170 - Chicoreus palmarosae (Lamarck, 1822) - Muricidae - Mollusc shell.jpeg
Museum specimens of Chicoreus palmarosae (Lamarck, 1822), Naturalis

According to the taxonomy of the Gastropoda by Bouchet & Rocroi (2005) the family Muricidae consists of these subfamilies:

Synonyms

Related Research Articles

<i>Murex</i> Genus of gastropods

Murex is a genus of medium to large sized predatory tropical sea snails. These are carnivorous marine gastropod molluscs in the family Muricidae, commonly called "murexes" or "rock snails".

<i>Bolinus brandaris</i> Species of gastropod

Bolinus brandaris, and commonly known as the purple dye murex or the spiny dye-murex, is a species of medium-sized predatory sea snail, an edible marine gastropod mollusk in the family Muricidae, the murex snails or the rock snails.

Rapaninae Subfamily of gastropods

Rapaninae is a subfamily of predatory sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks in the family Muricidae.

Muricinae Subfamily of gastropods

Muricinae is a taxonomic subfamily of predatory sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks within the large family Muricidae, the murex snails and rock snails.

<i>Chicoreus brevifrons</i> Species of gastropod

Chicoreus brevifrons, common name the West Indian murex, is a species of predatory sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Muricidae, the murex snails.

Coralliophilinae Subfamily of gastropods

Coralliophilinae is a taxonomic group, a subfamily of about 200–250 sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks commonly known as the coral snails or coral shells. This is a subfamily within the very large family Muricidae, the murex or rock snails.

<i>Murex trapa</i> Species of gastropod

Murex trapa, common name the rare-spined murex, is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusc of the family Muricidae, the rock snails.

<i>Hexaplex</i> Genus of gastropods

Hexaplex is a genus of medium-sized to large sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks in the subfamily muracinae of the family Muricidae, the murex shells or rock snails.

<i>Hexaplex cichoreum</i> Species of gastropod

Hexaplex cichoreum, common name the "endive murex", is a medium-sized species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Muricidae, the murex shells or rock snails.

<i>Chicoreus florifer</i> Species of gastropod

Chicoreus (Triplex) florifer, common name : the flowery lace murex, is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Muricidae, the murex snails or rock snails.

<i>Haustellum barbieri</i> Species of gastropod

Haustellum barbieri is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Muricidae, the murex snails or rock snails.


Haustellum kurodai is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Muricidae, the murex snails or rock snails.

<i>Haustellum tweedianum</i> Species of gastropod

Haustellum tweedianum, common name : the Tweed murex, is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Muricidae, the murex snails or rock snails.

<i>Hexaplex radix</i> Species of gastropod

Hexaplex radix, the radix murex or root murex, is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Muricidae, the murex snails or rock snails.

Vokesimurex multiplicatus is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Muricidae, the murex snails or rock snails.

<i>Aspella</i> Genus of gastropods

Aspella is a genus of sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks in the family Muricidae, the murex snails or rock snails.

<i>Haustellum</i> Genus of gastropods

Haustellum is a genus of medium-sized sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks in the family Muricidae, the murex snails or rock snails. Like many other genera within the Muricidae, the genus has been redefined several times.

<i>Paziella</i> Genus of gastropods

Paziella is a genus of sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks in the family Muricidae, the murex snails or rock snails.

<i>Vokesimurex</i> Genus of gastropods

Vokesimurex is a genus of sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks in the family Muricidae, the murex snails or rock snails.

Muricopsinae Subfamily of gastropods

Muricopsinae is a taxonomic subfamily of predatory sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks within the large family Muricidae, the murex snails and rock snails.

References

  1. Merle, D., Garrigues, B. & Pointier, J.-P. (2011). Fossil and Recent Muricidae of the World, Part Muricinae. 648 pp., 182 colour plates, ConchBooks, Hackenheim. ISBN   978-3-939767-32-9.