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Species / Ophioglossolambis Digitata


Original Description of Strombus digitatus by Perry, 1811, p. 13:

  • "No. 1 Strombus digitatus. Shell brown, striped with white; the cheek very much expanded, and divided into ten segments, pointed, rounded, and arcuated; the mouth and columella richly striped with white and red veins, running the whole length of the shell; the beak short. A native of the Eastern Ocean."

Locus typicus: "I hereby restrict Perry's type locality of "Eastern Ocean" to Upolu Island, Western Samoa." (Abbott, 1961)

Strombus digitatus Perry, 1811, pl. 13, fig. 1

Comparison of figures from Perry, 1811, pl. 13, fig. 1 and Chemnitz, 1788, pl. 155, fig. 1480. The arrows mark the most obvious similarities.


  • "The type of Perry's digitata has probably been lost." (Abbott, 1961)
  • Perry, 1811 copied the figure of Chemnitz, 1788, pl. 155, fig. 1480 which is a specimen from the "Museo Spengleriano et Lorenziano" (Chemnitz, 1788, p. 207), so the type might be in the Zoological Museum of the University of Copenhagen.
    • Kaas & Knudsen, 1992, p. 51: "In 1804 Spengler sold his collection to the newly established "Royal Natural History Museum", a public museum which in 1864 was amalgamated with the Zoological Museum of the University of Copenhagen. Most of the specimens of Spengler's collections are still extant and with its numerous types of species described by Chemnitz in the "Neues systematisches Conchyliencabinet" (rejected as not being strictly binominal by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature) and by Spengler himself, it forms one of the scientifically most valuable parts of the shell collection of the museum."

History and Synonymy

Ophioglossolambis digitata (Perry, 1811: pl. 13 fig. 1) (Strombus)

  • Syn.: Pterocera crocea Reeve, 1842: 204, pl. 248 fig. 2
  • Syn.: Pterocera elongata Swainson, 1821: 12th unnumbered page
  • Syn.: Pterocera millepeda Lamarck, 1816: 4, pl. 410 figs 1a, 1b [non Strombus millepeda Linnaeus, 1758]
  • Syn.: Pterocera novem-dactylis Deshayes in Deshayes & Milne Edwards, 1843: 678 [?introduced as a new name for Pterocera millepeda Lamarck, non Linnaeus]
  • ?Syn.: Lambis elongata (Swainson, 1834) Butot, 1955: 78, pl. 1 fig 4.


in Favanne, 1780, pl. XXII, fig. A6

in Favanne, 1780, pl. XXII, fig. A7


Description of "Die neunfach gezackte Krabbenschnecke" by Chemnitz, 1788, p. 207:

  • Strombus novem dactylis instructus, testa alata, solida, labro crasso, lato, duplicato, exeunte in novem digitos breviores, rectiusculos, fauce utrinque striis exarata."
  • Locus typicus: "Es wohnet diese seltene Schnecke in den Ostindischen Meeren." (Chemnitz, 1788, p. 207)
  • Types: "Ex Museo Spengleriano et Lorenziano" (Chemnitz, 1788, p. 207)

"Die neunfach gezackte Krabbenschnecke. Strombus novem dactylis instructus." by Chemnitz, 1788, pl.155, fig. 1479, 1480


Pterocera millepeda Lamarck, 1816, pl. 410 figs 1a, 1b


Original Description of Pterocera elongata by Swainson, 1821, p. unnumbered (12):

  • "PTEROCERA elongata. Short-clawed Scorpion. P. Testae labio exteriore processibus 8 brevibus, latis, compressis armato; spira producta; apertura striata."
  • "Outer lip with 8 short, broad, and compressed processes; aperture striated; spire lengthened."

Swainson, 1821 cited:

  • Lister, 868. 23.
  • Martini, 10. tab. 155. f. 1479 & 1480.
  • P. millepeda. Brug. Ency. Meth. 410. fig. 1. a. b.

Comment Swainson, 1821:

  • "This is so very distinct a shell from the true millepeda, that it is surprising Bruguiere should have continued the error of placing it as the same species: his figure, however, is very good. The claws are very short and dilated, and the spire always lengthened. Mr. Dubois has the finest example of this rare shell I have ever seen."


Pterocera novempeda Schmidt, 1827 [Manuscript name, not available], exColl. Schröter, Coll. Museum der Natur Gotha, MNG 4927


Description of Pteroceras elongatum by Sowerby, 1842, p. 44:

  • "P. Elongatum. (pl. xi. f. 4.) Swains. Sow. Tank. Cat. P. Croceum, Reeve. Conch. Syst. pl. 248. f. 2. [G. B. S. Jun. regrets the necessity of changing his opinion, with respect to the relative merits of the two names given above. The author of the Tankerville Catalogue has expressed his assurance that the name elongatum was published by Swainson previously to being quoted in that work. The name is also in common use.] T. sub-elongata, spiraliter sulcata, tuberculis magnis ad angulum, costis noduliferis, infra-angulum; spira elongata, acuminata; apertura sub-angustata; labio externo crasso, margine lato, complanato, intus sulcis albis purpureo interlineatis, striato; labio interno crasso, sulcato, margine distincto, digitis extra canalem anticam octo, quarum una postica, elongata, bilobata, tum una sub-recta, sub-elongata, deinde sex brevibus obtusis."
  • "This species is remarkable for the elongated spire, and the flattened margin of the outer lip, with the short obtuse digitations. The colour is the same as in other species, with purlish black lines between the white grooves of the aperture, and a strong tinge of yellow inside."

Pteroceras elongatum in Sowerby, 1842, pl. 11, fig. 4


Original designation of Pterocera crocea by Reeve, 1842, p. 204:

  • Pterocera crocea, Nobis, Sowerby, Jun., Thesaurus Conchyliorum, Part II. pl. 11, fig. 4.
  • Strombus novem dactylis, Chemnitz, Conch., vol. x. pl. 155, f. 1479.
  • Pterocera elongata, -?

Pterocera crocea Reeve, 1842, pl. 248, fig. 2


Description of Pterocera elongata by Kiener, 1843, p. 8:

  • "Pt. testa ovato-elongata, subventricosa, tuberculato-nodosa, superne striata, octodactyla, flavo-rubescente, albo-maculata; labro dextro intus rugoso; canali torsiusculo; apertura flavescente."
  • Coquille ovale, allongée, à spire assez élevée, subrenflée, conique, pointue au sommet; on y compte dix tours concaves à leur partie supérieure, anguleux à leur base; leur suture est garnie d'une rangée de tubercules déprimés, peu élevés, traversés par un sillon décurrent; le dernier tour, rétréci vers le milieu, n'est pas aussi anguleux que les précédents; les tubercules y sont beaucoup moins nombreux, mais plus gros et coniques; ce tour est, en outre , chargé de côtes transverses noduleuses plus ou moins prononcées et correspondant aux digitations du bord droit; la surface de la coquille est en général assez lisse, à l'exception de la partie supérieure des tours qui est garnie de stries décurrentes; le bord sutural est aussi finement plissé; l'ouverture est allongée, le bord droit peu évasé; il est pourvu de huit digitations dont six sont très-courtes, fortes, aplaties sur leur face inférieure; les deux autres, situées vers le sommet du bord et dans la direction de l'ouverture, sont plus longues, plus grêles, très-distantes l'une de l'autre; celle qui correspond à l'angle sutural est creusée en une gouttière profonde; elle est isolée de la spire et le plus souvent bifurquée à son extrémité; le sinus du bord droit est profond; l'intervalle qui le sépare du canal est festonné; le canal est long, effilé, légèrement tordu, presque droit; sa surface est pourvue de fortes stries obliques; la face interne du bord droit et la columelle sont ornées de rides transverses assez fortes. La coquille est d'un jaune rougeâtre, variée de maculations blanches irrégulières, bien distinctes sur les côtes et les nodosités. L'ouverture est jaunâtre dans l'intérieur; les rides du bord droit et de la columelle sont colorées d'un violet pourpré ou d'un noir intense; la partie lisse du bord droit est jaunâtre. Long. 17 centim. Habite la mer des Indes."

Pterocera elongata in Kiener, 1843, pl. VIII


Pterocera elongata in Reeve, 1851, Pterocera, pl. 6, fig. 9


Liverani, 2013, p. 21

  • "The forma crocea Reeve, 1854 has a shorter spire and longer digits than average shells, it is the dominant form in Reunion and Mauritius. It is occasionally also found in Madagascar and Mozambique, sometimes intergrading with the normal form."


Fowler, 2016, p. 30 about Ophioglossolambis digitata (Perry, 1811):

  • "Habitat: recorded from Kenya by Walls. I have not seen any specimens from north of Sansibar"

Specimens from private collections

Ophioglossolambis digitata (Perry, 1811); off Toliara (formerly Tuléar), Atsimo-Andrefana Region, southern Madagascar; trawled by local shrimpers at 20 m depth on sandy bottom; 130 mm; Coll. Ulrich Wieneke

Ophioglossolambis digitata (Perry, 1811); off Toliara (formerly Tuléar), Atsimo-Andrefana Region, southern Madagascar; trawled by local shrimpers at 20 m depth on sandy bottom; 114 mm; Coll. Ulrich Wieneke

Ophioglossolambis digitata (Perry, 1811); Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea; 20m by diver; 135 mm; Coll. Paul Merrill

Ophioglossolambis digitata (Perry, 1811); Zanzibar Archipelago, Tanzania, East Africa, Indian Ocean; taken at low tide; 134 mm; 11/2005; Coll. Aart Dekkers no. 1516

Ophioglossolambis digitata (Perry, 1811); Saint-Giles, La Reunion island; 171 mm; Coll. Ulrich Wieneke

Ophioglossolambis digitata (Perry, 1811); Mauritius Island, Indian Ocean; 119,5 mm; Coll. Ulrich Wieneke

Ophioglossolambis digitata (Perry, 1811); Saint Brandon Archipelago, northeast of Mauritius Island, Indian Ocean; 177 mm; Coll. David Lum

  • Comment Lum: "Mauritius form of Lambis digitata. More flattened, longer spined, smaller spired, and overall less stout than typical form from areas farther west."

Ophioglossolambis digitata (Perry, 1811); freak form; Madagascar Island; 108 mm; Coll. Ulrich Wieneke

Ophioglossolambis digitata (Perry, 1811); Sanculo-Lumbo, Nampula Province, Republic of Mozambique, Indian Ocean; -5~10m, dived; 128.5mm; 2006; Coll. Chong Chen

  • Comment Chen: "The "Elongate Spider Conch" is a very attractive spider conch with alternating dark/light bands in the aperture, endemic to western Indian Ocean ranging from Kenya to Mozambique to Réunion. Although there are some historical distribution records from Philippines and Samoa in the Pacific Ocean, the credibility of these is negligible. The nominal form dominant in mainland/Madagascar is common but there is a form O. digitata f. crocea (Reeve, 1854) which is rather rare on the market. O. digitata f. crocea is the dominant form in Mauritius/Mascarene Basin and very uncommon outside that region; quite different from the nomial form in having a flattened and much wider whorls and a much shorter, compressed spire as well as longer digits. This species is generally variable in digitation, but can usually be easily identified by the most posterior digit being forked, in combination with its aperture pattern. It is a herbivorous gastropod inhabiting sandy and rubbly bottoms of shallow water around -5~30m in depth. Typical shell length around 120mm but gigantic specimens are known to exceed 180mm. Previously placed in genus Lambis, it is now the type species of the recently erected genus Ophioglossolambis, its only congener being the famous rarity O. violacea (Swainson, 1821)."


from Abbott, 1961, p. 164:

  • Moçambique City, Nampula Province, Republic of Mozambique, Indian Ocean; (ANSP)
  • Pemba (formerly Port Amelia), Cabo Delgado Provincee, Republic of Mozambique, Indian Ocean; (MCZ)
  • Sarodrano, Atsimo-Andrefana Region, Madagascar Island (Dautzenberg, 1929, p. 473)
  • Mauritius (MCZ)
  • Mindoro Island, Philippines Islands (Elera, 1896, p. 255)
  • Surigao, Surigao del Norte, Caraga Region, Philippines Islands (Elera, 1896, p. 255)
  • Upolu Island, Samoa (Titian R. Peale, 1839, ANSP)

About records from the Philippines:

  • Geiger, 1999, p. 51:
    • "The credibility of the mention in Casto de Elera (1896) in his catalog of shells from the Philippines is very low. He also mentioned species known at the time not to be found on the Philippine Islands. The best example is H. mariae Wood, 1828, an endemic species to Oman."

from WoRMS (World Register of Marine Species)

  • Kenya; (Walls, 1980)
  • Madagascar; (Walls, 1980)
  • Mascarene Basin; (Drivas & Jay, 1988)
  • Mauritius;; (Michel, 1988; Walls, 1980)
  • Republic of Mozambique, Indian Ocean; (Walls, 1980)
  • Reunion; (Walls, 1980)
  • Tanzania; (Walls, 1980)
  • Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Western Indian Ocean, exact locality not known, Z.S.I. No. M2483 (Subba Rao, 1977)

Distribution of Ophioglossolambis digitata

  • red = records, blue = questionable records


  • Butot, L.J.M., 1955. Duivelsklauwen, boksbeugels, schorpioenen of enterhaken (Een voorlopige samenvatting). Penggemar Alam 35: 71-83, 3 pls.
  • Casto de Elera, R. P. Fr. 1896. Catalogo Sistematico de Toda la Fauna de Filipinas ... [Systematic Catalogue of the Entire Fauna of the Philippines ...] Vol. III. Imprenta del Colegio de Santo Tomas, Manila, 942 pp. + lxiv.
  • Cernohorsky W.O. 1965: The Strombidae of Fiji. Records of the Fiji Museum Vol. 1(No. 1): 1-18, 6 Plates, 1 Map
  • Dautzenberg, Ph. (1929). Contribution à l'étude de la faune de Madagascar: Mollusca marina testacea. Faune des colonies françaises, III(fasc. 4). Société d'Editions géographiques, maritimes et coloniales: Paris. 321-636, plates IV-VII.
  • Dekkers A.M. (2012) A new genus related to the genus Lambis Röding, 1798 (Gastropoda: Strombidae) from the Indian Ocean. Gloria Maris 51(2-3): 68-74.
  • Deshayes, G.P. & Milne Edwards, H., 1843. Histoire Naturelle des Animaux .... Ed. 2, 9: 1-725
  • Drivas & Jay, 1988
  • Fowler,O. 2016. Seashells of the Kenya Coast, Conchbooks, Harxheim,1-170.
  • Geiger, D. L. 1999. A Total Evidence Cladistic Analysis of the Family Haliotidae (Gastropoda: Vetigastropoda). Ph.D. Thesis, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. xix, 423 pp
  • Kaas, P. & J. Knudsen, 1992. Lorentz Spengler's descriptions of chitons (Mollusca: Polyplacophora). Zool. Med. Leiden 66 (3), 31.vii. 1992; 49-90, figs. 1-27. Fulltext
  • Kronenberg, G.C. & Wieneke, U. 2020. Röding’s Stromboidea (Caenogastropoda): the remains of the Bolten collection in the Museum der Natur Gotha (Germany), a critical review of Röding’s taxa, and notes on the Schmidt catalogue. Basteria 84 (1-3): 85-126.
  • Lamarck, J.B.P.A. de Monet de, 1816. Tableau encyclopédique et méthodique des trois règnes de la nature … Vingttroisième partie. Mollusques et polypes divers. Mme Veuve Agasse, Paris; Vol. 1: Liste des objets représentés dans les planches de cette livraison, 16 pp, pls. 1-95; Vol. 2: pls. 96-314; Vol. 3: pls. 391-488 (incl. 431bis and 431bis*).
  • Michel, C. (1988). Marine molluscs of Mauritius. Editions de l'Ocean Indien. Stanley, Rose Hill. Mauritius
  • Perry, G., 1811. Conchology or the Natural History of Shells: containing a new arrangement of the genera and species, illustrated by coloured engravings executed from the natural specimens, and including the latest discoveries. London: W. Miller. [4] + 61 pls, + [1] p.
  • Petit, R.E., 2003. George Perry's molluscan taxa and notes on the editions of his Conchology of 1811. Zootaxa 377: 3-72.
  • Reeve, L.A., 1841-1842. Conchologica systematica, or Complete System of Conchology: In which the Lepades and Conchiferous Mollusca are described and classified according to their natural organization and habits. Vol. 1: Pp i-vi, 1-195, pls 1-129, table (1841); Vol. 2: Pp. 1-337 + 1, pls 130-300 (1842). London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans
  • Subba Rao N.V., 1977. On the collection of Strombidae (Mollusca: Gastropoda) from Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Western Indian Ocean - 2. Genera Lambis, Terebellum, Tibia and Rimella; Journal of the Marine Biological Association of India, vol. 19
  • Walls, 1980

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