Springer Nature is making Coronavirus research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Development and functions of the shell sculpture of the marine snail Ceratostoma foliatum

  • 69 Accesses

  • 14 Citations


The shell of the adult Ceratostoma foliatum (Gmelin) is characterized by three varices with foliations, and a tooth on the anterior portion of the outer lip. These features are derived gradually from the markedly different sculpture of shells of small juveniles (a network of fine axial and spiral cords). The sculpture changes as the thin, cord-like basic varix is elaborated, reinforced, and modified by the development of a secondary structure (the tooth) and as the number of varices per whorl decreases. Most muricid shell patterns can be derived from juvenile patterns similar to that of C. foliatum by quantitative variations in these four processes. Likely functions of the complex and varied muricid shell structures include stabilization in shifting substrates, defense against predators, and strengthening of the shell. Different functions and shell-growth patterns are likely for the different types of varices. Shell structures are most elaborate on shells of adults. A structure's functions are likely to change as the structure becomes more complex on each successive whorl. The functional period in an individual's lifespan is consequently restricted by the pattern of growth, the rate of structural development, and the rate of shell erosion.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Literature Cited

  1. Carter, R. M.: The shell ornament of Hysteroconcha and Hecuba (Bivalvia): a test case for inferential functional morphology. Veliger 10, 59–71 (1967).

  2. Clark, G. R.: Mollusk shell: daily growth lines. Science, N.Y. 161, 800–802 (1968).

  3. Connell, J. H.: A predator-prey system in the marine intertidal region. I. Balanus glandula and several predatory species of Thais. Ecol. Monogr. 40, 49–78 (1970).

  4. Cowell, E. B. and J. H. Crothers: On the occurrence of multiple rows of “teeth” in the shell of the dog-whelk Nucella lapillus. J. mar. biol. Ass. U.K. 50, 1101–1111 (1970).

  5. Feare, C. J.: Aspects of the ecology of an exposed shore population of dogwhelks, Nucella lapillus (L.). Oecologia (Berl.) 5, 1–18 (1970)

  6. Hall, C. A., Jr.: The gastropod genus Ceratostoma. J. Paleont. 33, 121–126 (1959).

  7. Hewatt, W. G.: Ecological studies on selected marine intertidal communities of Monterey Bay. Ph.D. Thesis, Stanford University 1934.

  8. Inaba, A.: Growth of Chicoreus asianus. Venus, Kyoto 26, 5–7 (1967).

  9. Keen, A. M.: Sea shells of tropical west America, 2nd ed. 1064 pp. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press 1971.

  10. Kitching, J. A., L. Muntz and F. J. Ebling: The ecology of Lough Ine. XV. The ecological significance of shell and body forms in Nucella. J. Anim. Ecol. 35, 113–126 (1966).

  11. Laxton, J. H.: The relationship between the number of varices and total shell length in some New Zealand Cymatiidae (Gastropoda: Prosobranchia) and its ecological significance. Veliger 13, 127–134 (1970).

  12. Luckens, P. A.: Variation of shell characters of a species of Ocenebra (Mollusca: Gastropoda) at Asamushi. Sci. Rep. Tôhoku Univ. (Ser. IV, Biol.) 35, 149–159 (1970).

  13. MacGinitie, G. E. and N. MacGinitie: Natural history of marine animals, 473 pp. New York: McGraw-Hill 1949.

  14. MacKenzie, C. L., Jr.: Growth and reproduction of the oyster drill Eupleura caudata in the York River, Virginia. Ecology 42, 317–338 (1961).

  15. Neville, A. C.: Daily growth layers in animals and plants. Biol. Rev. 42, 421–441 (1967).

  16. Paine, R. T.: Function of labial spines, composition of diet, and size of certain marine gastropods. Veliger 9, 17–24 (1966).

  17. Spight, T. M., C. Birkeland and A. Lyons: Life histories of large and small murexes (Prosobranchia: Muricidae). Mar. Biol. (1974). (In press).

  18. Struhsaker, J. W.: Selection mechanisms associated with intraspecific shell variation in Littorina picta (Prosobranchia: Mesogastropoda). Evolution, Lancaster, Pa 22, 459–480 (1968).

  19. Wainwright, S. A.: Stress and design in bivalved mollusc shell. Nature, Lond. 224, 777–779 (1969).

  20. Wilbur, K. M. and G. Owen: Growth. In: Physiology of Mollusca, Vol. 1. pp 211–242 Ed. by K. M. Wilbur and C. M. Yonge. New York: Academic Press 1964.

Download references

Author information

Additional information

Communicated by J. Bunt, Miami

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Spight, T.M., Lyons, A. Development and functions of the shell sculpture of the marine snail Ceratostoma foliatum . Marine Biology 24, 77–83 (1974).

Download citation


  • Secondary Structure
  • Quantitative Variation
  • Shell Structure
  • Structural Development
  • Anterior Portion