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Peristernia incarnata (Family Fasciolariidae)

Tulip or Spindle Shell


This species is restricted to tropical Australia and New Guinea. In Australia the Tulip or Spindle Shell ranges from Geraldton, WA, across northern shores including all of NT, and Qld shores south to northern NSW (WA, NT, QLD).


The Tulip or Spindle Shell has a long, solid, biconic to spindle-shaped shell, with a short and wide siphonal canal that just projects beyond the margin of the shell. It grows to 30 mm in length. It has about 10 whorls. Its sculpture consists of thick, rounded, oblique-axial ribs (across the axis at an angle) and it has strong spiral cords that are located in the interspaces, but usually cross the ribs. The shape of the aperture is mildly lyre-shaped. The smooth columella is quite bent, with 1-3 weak folds. The outer lip of the aperture is marked with small teeth-like bumps called denticles.

The shells axial ribs are coloured yellow or red-brown, with dark brown interspaces. Inside the shell is mauve or pink.

Ecology/Way of Life:

On western Australian shores the Tulip or Spindle Shell is a common intertidal species, but seems to be more rare in Queensland.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

Although common on western tropical Australian shores, it appears to be less common on Queensland shores. However, this species does not appear to be under threat from human activities.

Other Comments:

Peristernia incarnata , Keiner, 1840. Deshayes first described this species in 1830, but the original name was considered to be invalid because it was preoccupied. Keiner gave it its current name in 1840. This has resulted in some authors crediting Deshayes (1830) as describing the species first while other authors state that Keiner (1840) correctly described the species.

Peristerna comes from two Greek words. Peri is a Greek word that means around, while sternia means chest. Incarnata comes from the Latin words in and caro or carnis, meaning flesh, which together means to embody in the flesh.

Further Reading:

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. New Holland Press, p.114, Sydney.

Short, J. W. & Potter, D. G. (1987). Shells of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef. p.72, Golden Press.

Wells, F. E. & Bryce, C. W. (1988). Seashells of Western Australia. p.102, Western Australian Museum.

Wilson, B. R. & Gillett, K. (1979). A Field Guide to Australian Shells: Prosobranch Gastropods. p. 178, Reed.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey.

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