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Alcithoe arabica

Alcithoe arabica

Alcithoe arabica, common name Arabic volute, is a species of very large sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusc in the family Volutidae, the volutes.[1][2]


This species is endemic to New Zealand.[1][3][4]
A shell of Alcithoe arabica

Shells of Alcithoe arabica can reach a height of 75–225 millimetres (3.0–8.9 in) and a width of 88 mm.[1] These shells are usually large, solid, fusiform, with relatively weak tubercles on the shoulder of the body whorl.[1] The shell aperture is high with a thickened, rounded outer lip.[1] The external surface is yellowish-white with chestnut zig-zac markings, forming five bands on the body whorl. These zig-zag markings were thought to resemble Arabic writing, giving rise to the name of the species.

There is no operculum in A. arabica. Individuals have a large grey to brown foot, flecked with purple and orange markings.[5]

These sea snails live in subtidal waters on soft sediments.[5] Alcithoe arabica are able to move quite quickly on the soft substrate. They feed on bivalves that they smother using their large foot. The rounded, thin shelled eggs of this species are laid on stones or other shells.[5]

Alcithoe arabica motutaraensis Powell, 1928[2]
Alcithoe arabica swainsoni Marwick, 1926[2]


Powell A. W. B., New Zealand Mollusca, William Collins Publishers Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand 1979 ISBN 0-00-216906-1
WoRMS World Register of Marine Species: Alcithoe arabica (Gmelin, 1791)
Hills, Simon F.K.; Trewick, Steven A.; Morgan-Richards, Mary (2011). "Phylogenetic information of genes, illustrated with mitochondrial data from a genus of gastropod molluscs". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 104 (4): 770–785. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.2011.01756.x.
Hills, Simon F.K.; Crampton, James S.; Trewick, Steven A.; Morgan-Richards, Mary (2012). "DNA and Morphology Unite Two Species and 10 Million Year Old Fossils". PLOS ONE. 7 (12): e52083. Bibcode:2012PLoSO...752083H. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052083. PMC 3527379. PMID 23284880.

Marine Life - Snail, Arabic Volute

Further reading

Powell A W B, New Zealand Mollusca, William Collins Publishers Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand 1979 ISBN 0-00-216906-1
Bail, P., Limpus, A. 2005: A Conchological Iconography 11, The Recent Volutes of New Zealand, with a revision of the genus Alcithoe H. & A. Adams, 1853, ConchBooks, Hackenheim, Germany.
Gordon, D. NZIB: New Zealand Inventory of Biodiversity.
Grant-Mackie, J.A. Dec/2011: A Fossil Egg Case of Alcithoe arabica from the Whanganui Pleistocene, Poirieria, 36.
Horne, C. Jul/2005: Observations on Alcithoe arabica at Bucklands Beach, Poirieria.

Mollusca Images

Biology Encyclopedia

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