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Species / Mirabilistrombus Listeri


Original Description of Strombus listeri by Gray, 1852, p. 430:

  • "S. testa fusiformi, turrita, alba, luteo-fasciata et maculata, ultimo anfractu subcompresso, obtuse angulato, inferne sulcato; spira longitudinaliter plicata, transversim striata; labro plano, valde expanso, subquadrato, superne producto, intus laevi."
  • Dimensions: "Long. 4 3/5 unc., lat. 1 4/5 unc."

Types: Holotype, Hunterian Museum GLAHM:161089

History and Synonymy

Mirabilistrombus listeri (T. Gray, 1852: 430) (Strombus)

  • Syn.: Strombus mirabilis Sowerby2nd, 1870: 257, pl. 21 fig. 4


Description of Lister et al., 1688, pl. 855:

  • "Buccinum bilingue Canadense, labro lavi, ex inferiore parte mucronato, clavicula dense admodum striata, longa, tenui."

Lister, Lister & Lister, 1688, pl. 855


Original Description of Strombus mirabilis by Sowerby, 1870, p. 257:

  • "S. testa elongato-fusiformi, ad spiram et anfractum ultimum castaneo fasciata, inter fascias fusco angulatim et undatim strigata, ad dorsum castaneo saturatiore et magis suffuso picta; spira elongata; anfractibus 12 circa, quorum 7 apicalibus subrotundis longitudinaliter costatis, spiraliter inter costas striatis, 3 ad 4 ultimis laevibus, angulatis, ultimo in canalem caudalem attenuatum valide retrorsus tortuosum terminante; columella laevigata, arcuata, labio albo, late expanso, alato, ad canalem anticum emarginato, prope canalem unilobato, inter lobum et alam sinu maximo emarginato, ala laevigata, retiuscula, incrassata, in lobum superne elevata, tum profunde emarginata, ad anfractum ultimum elevata."
  • "Hab. Ceylon"

Strombus mirabilis Sowerby, 1870, pl. XXI, fig. 4

Specimens from private collections

Mirabiblistrombus listeri (Gray, 1852); Coll. Ulrich Wieneke

  1. Gulf of Oman; 10/1978; 135,1 mm; no. UW2400
  2. Mergui Archipelago, Union of Myanmar (Burma); taken by Birman trawlers; 122,3 mm; no. UW2401
  3. Mergui Archipelago, Union of Myanmar (Burma); taken by Birman trawlers; 125,5 mm; no. UW2402

Mirabilistrombus listeri (Gray, 1852); Al Fujairah, Gulf of Oman, United Arab Emirates; 104 mm, 106 mm; Coll. Christian Börnke

Mirabiblistrombus listeri (Gray, 1852); off shore, Thailand, Indian Ocean; 138 mm; Coll. Paul Merrill

Mirabilistrombus listeri (Gray, 1852); Between Koh Racha Islands, Phuket, Thailand and Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar (Burma); -80~120m; 133.4mm; 1980s-1990s; Coll. Chong Chen

  • Comment Chong Chen: "The "Lister's Conch" is a magnificent and famous strombid with a noteworthy history. The first known specimen belonged to John Tradescant of London in the early 17th Century and was illustrated by Martin Lister (its namesake), which Thomas Gray used in his description making it the holotype. It remained unique for a short while but Mrs de Burgh, one of two famous British collectors of the time, acquired another specimen and not knowing about Gray's description had Sowerby II describe it as Strombus mirabilis (1870). Until more specimens turned up in the second half of 20th Century it remained elusive and one of the most sought-after shells of all, and was thus listed as one of S. Peter Dance's 50 "Rare Shells" (1969). As it is quite distinctive from all other strombids its taxonomic placement has been controversial, and in 1998 Gijs Kronenberg erected a new monotypic genus for it: Mirabilistrombus; the name of which is sublimed from that well-known synonym by Sowerby II. The holotype is supposed to be deposited in the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow, Scotland; but hwow John Tradescant acquired it in the first place is enigmatic till this day. With deep trawling and dredging it is only uncommon today, although specimens with original operculum is quite scarce. A herbivorous gastropod inhabiting sandy bottoms of moderately deep water around -40~150m, its distribution range is from northwest Indian Ocean to Bay of Bengal and recently extended to Arafura Sea; most specimens originate from either Myanmar or Thailand. It is a little-varied species and the typical shell length is around 130mm, very large specimens may exceed 160mm."

Mirabilistrombus listeri (Gray, 1852); Bay of Bengal, off Phuket, Thailand; trawled by fishermen in deep Waters; 129,2 mm; Coll. Lawrence Moon

Comment Lawrence Moon on the type of "Strombus listeri":

  • "In September 1986 this old and famous specimen met with a very unfortunate accident. The shell had been loaned by the Hunterian Museum to the Glasgow Museum and Art Gallery to be displayed in an exhibition on 'The History of Shell Collecting' and was to take pride of place in the exhibition. On the morning of the 2nd September, the day before the exhibition was due to open, a sign was being erected above the exhibits using a portable scaffolding tower, when the heavy sign slipped and fell onto the display case containing the shell and tipped it over. The case lid came loose and the contents of the case spilled onto to the floor. The Tradescant shell was crushed under the case and broke into several pieces. The shell was uninsured, so the Glasgow Museum paid £5000 in compensation to the Hunterian which included £1000 for the cost of repair by a ceramic restorer. The damaged shell was found to contain sedimentary material which showed that it was not a live-collected specimen."

Mirabilistrombus listeri (Gray, 1852); Arafura Sea, between Aru Islands, Maluku Province (Moluccas), Indonesia and Australia; trawled by Indonesian fishermen at approx. 144 m; 2005; 116,8 mm; Ex-coll. Bunjamin Dharma; Coll. Gijs Kronenberg no. 6289

Mirabilistrombus listeri (Gray, 1852); Thailand; 147,5 mm; unknown collection


  • Gray, 1852
  • Hancock, G. (1995). Strombus listeri Gray, 1852 (Mollusca; Gastropoda); Morals to be Learnt from damage to One of the Oldest Known Documented Species ‐ A Retrospective Valuation. The Biology Curator, Issue 3, 23 ‐ 25, Fulltext
  • Kronenberg, 1998
  • Sowerby,1870

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