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Littoraria articulata (Family Littorinidae)

Articulated Littorina


The Articulated Littorina has a northern tropical Australian distribution. It ranges from Exmouth Gulf, WA, across northern shores including NT, to Moreton Bay, Qld (WA, NT, QLD).


The shell of the Articulated Littorina is turban-shaped, but is bent to the side. It grows to a shell length of 20 mm. The spire is fairly low, being mildly convex in outline. The sides of the whorls and the base are rounded. Its sculpture consists of 20-33 flat ribs on the large body whorl, with shallow grooves between. The aperture is rounded, with a thin outer lip. The operculum consists of horn-like material. The columella is wide and empty.

The shell exterior is cream-yellow, grey or white, and is patterned with dark brown dashes on the ribs, which may form axial stripes at the hind part of the shell. Inside the shell, the columella is dark purple, occasionally pink or white, edged with white.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Articulated Littorina occurs in mangrove forests, sometimes on rocks and wooden piles. It is a herbivore, feeding on algae scraped from the substrate.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

It is uncertain whether this form is a separate species in its own right, or a form of the more abundant, widespread and variable Scratched Littoraria, Littorina scabra. The Articulated Littorina is smaller in size, and the spire is angled from the centre line and there appear to be fewer whorls. Both species need to be studied further to ascertain their relationship.

Other Comments:

Littoraria articulata, Philippi, 1846. Synonyms are Littoraria sinensis, Pilsbry, 1895, Littoraria blandfordi, Dunker, 1871 and Littoraria strigata, Lischke, 1871. Rosewater considered that the subspecies Litorina scabra articulata, "Menke" Philippi, 1846, was a synonym for Littorina scabra.

Littoraria comes from the Latin word litoralis, or litus, litorus meaning shore, while articulata comes from the Latin word articulus, meaning a little joint.

Further Reading:

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p.103, New Holland Press, Sydney.

Rosewater, J. (1970). The Family Littorinidae in the Indo-Pacific. Pt.1: The sub-family Littorininae. Indo-Pacific Mollusca, V.2(11) Nov. p.459, pp.5-261.

Wilson, B. (1993) Australian Marine Shells. Prosobranch gastropods. v.1. p.146, Odyssey Publishing.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey.

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