Archerd Shell Collection > Shell Classes > Gastropoda > new shell family

Family: Epitoniidae (Wentletraps)

The Wentletraps, named for the Dutch word for a spiral staircase, present a surprising array of species, noted for their intricately geometric shell architecture. Most are distinguished by a long spire, very deep sutures, and characteristically strong axial varices that run across all of the whorls from the tip of the spire to the aperture. The shells are generally white and have a porcelain-like appearance.

A rounded aperture is characteristic of the wentletrap family, which in molluscs usually indicates herbivorous feeding habits. However, many wentletraps show purple body color and sometimes staining of the shell, suggestive of carnivorous feeding (Keen, 1958). Keen also cited direct observation of a wentletrap feeding for hours at a time, by insertion of its proboscis into a sea anemone.

Interestingly and despite the fact that they are in an entirely unrelated superfamily than the Muricidae, the Epitoniidae secrete a similar mucus from which a purple dye can be made (Monfils, 2001).

The Epitoniidae family belongs to the Superfamily: Architectonicacea, which includes also the Architectonicidae, Janthinidae, as well as several more families consisting of small sea snails.

Class: Gastropoda
Group: Ptenoglossa
Superfamily: Epitonioidea
Family: Epitoniidae
Major Genera
  • Genus: Acirsa
  • Genus: Amaea
  • Genus: Cirsostrema
  • Genus: Eglisia
  • Genus: Epitonium
  • Genus: Opalia
  • Genus: Scalina
  • Genus: Sthenorytis
Epitoneum_scalare.JPG (50093 bytes)

Epitonium scalare (Linnaeus, 1758)
Precious Wentletrap
5.5 cm
Found in southwest sea of Taiwan


Amaea_magnifica.JPG (50421 bytes)
Amaea magnifica
Beautiful Wentletrap
10.8 cm
(a rare shell)

(Jacksonville Shell Club)

Epitonium multistriatum

Archerd Shell Collection > Shell Classes > Gastropods > Wentletraps