Marine Biology

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 77–83 | Cite as

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

  • T. M. Spight
  • A. Lyons


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.


Secondary Structure Quantitative Variation Shell Structure Structural Development Anterior Portion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. M. Spight
    • 1
  • A. Lyons
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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