lesleykew's picture

IMAG0591 Found on Seashore

Observed: 16th April 2012 By: lesleykew

We discovered this beauty on a sand/shingle beach at Costa Sancti Petri, nr Cadiz, in Andalucia in April 2012. I thought it was a huge shell but on trying to lift it, discovered the shell to be occupied. It weighed about 1 kilo and was 6 to 8 inches in diameter. I'm not sure if the rough texture of the snail itself was due to shingle adhering or whether the 'skin' was rough. Did not want to touch it! I have over the past few years, seen fragments of what appeared to be very large shells at another nearby sandy beach (El Palmar) but this is the first time I have seen a complete shell (plus inhabitant). Can anyone identify it please?

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ChrisMcA's picture

I've been fascinated by this

I've been fascinated by this since it was on nhm's natureplus (sadly with no reply),so it's good to see it on Ispot. Just to clarify, was it the shell that was 6 to8 in diam, & that weighed ab. 1 kilo? And did you keep any of the other fragments?. The only "spiral shell surrounded by flesh" I know is Spirula spirula (small white & symmetrical, so unlike this) which is a cuttlefish. Could it be the horn of a very small goat?

dejayM's picture


Graham - there are no agreements. Do you think you should revisit? It is certainly not like >>THIS<<
There is an EXCELLENT post here http://www.ispotnature.org/node/385080
Chris - tell me what you think of Crysomallon squamiferum? Possible?
WoRMS is doubtful about its name.

ChrisMcA's picture

It's still a mystery. The

ORIGINALLY DEC 2013It's still a mystery. The chrysomallon does have wavy growth lines, but is small at about 5cm , & from a deep sea hydrotherml vent S. of India I believe. I found another in the same superfamily, Planorbidella planispira http://eol.org/pages/4800370/details from E.Pacific vents.(up to 5.1mm). the nhm link http://www.nhm.ac.uk/natureplus/message/22879

dejayM's picture


I was 'struck' by its similarity to >>this<< in shape and structure; I also felt the need to prompt Graham for a rethink.
It cannot be this one (as you say) - 6" to 8" (say 15cms) is a big shell, whatever the total weight. I don't think it can be an animal horn.
Yours too looks promising but less of a lookalike.
Can it be Nautilidae?
Fascinating and maybe by bringing it into view again, it will gather more opinion.

Martin Harvey's picture

Algarve volute

I can't take any credit whatsoever for suggesting an ID here, but via a rather convoluted route a friend posted the link to the Seasearch group on Facebook and Simon Taylor came up with the ID as Cymbium olla. Certainly looks like the images here:

and here:

What an amazing creature!

Entomologist and biological recorder

dejayM's picture


Well, excellent Martin, good for you. I had been watching Chris's item in the Forum, in the hope that someone might pick it up.
My guess is that the team above will spend a while absorbing the ID, the closest yet - surely it's right..
Good stuff and yes, a good observation and an amazing mollusc..

ChrisMcA's picture


The 1st question on this volute http://www.gastropods.com/1/Shell_441.shtml is how on earth is it similar to this horn shape & the answer: End-On. The 2nd (as the end's such a small part) is why the poster didn't take another photo or describe the shape; presumably the red matter hid it all; but hard to imagine. But the match (both shell & animal) is too close to be coincidence, & apart from the 2nd question, makes sense of the descriptions. (another example http://strombus.free.fr/Genre%20Volutacea/CYMBIUM%20OLLA,%20LINNE%201758... )
Most unexpected & speedy result! Thanks Martin & Simon
(& marbef.org , the catalog of European marine species lists only 3 Cymbiums; olla,tritonis & cucumis)