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Lepsiella vinosa (Family Muricidae)

Wine-mouthed Lepsiella

Distribution:

The Wine-mouthed Lepsialla has a south-eastern distribution ranging from NSW, around southern shores including Vic, Tas, SA to Cockburn Sound, WA. It is particularly common in Vic. (NSW, VIC, TAS, SA, WA)

Features:

The shell of the Wine-mouthed Lepsiella is small, solid, more-or-less oval shaped, with a sharply pointed, conical spire that is less than half the length of the shell. It grows to a length of 12-15mm, diameter 8mm. It may grow to 30mm length in WA (Wells & Bryce). Its sculpture is variable. The spire often has a distinct shoulder. Spiral ribs cross the distinct, wide, angular whorls. There are six whorls. Fine, scaly, intricate thin plates that are called lamellae cover the whole shell surface. The shell aperture is nearly oval, with thin, crenulated (bumpy) outer lip. The anterior canal is short. The operculum is horn-like. The shell exterior is greenish-cream to grey in colour. The shell interior is dark purple-brown that describes the species name "wine-mouthed" or vinosa. The columella is brown-purple, or white in colour. The aperture is white, cream or brown. The Wine-mouthed Lepsiella is only half the size of its relation, Flinder's Lepsiella, L. flindersi.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Wine-mouthed Lepsiella is an extremely common, active carnivore on many south-eastern Australian rocky ocean shores. It occurs on and under rocks, among Galeolaria worm tubes, mussel beds of Xenostrobus pulex, and Brachydontes spp. or on barnacles. It actively feeds on all the prior species. It ranges widely between the tide marks.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The Wine-mouthed Lepsiella is a very common species across its ranges and doesn't appear to be under threat from human activities.

Other Comments:

Lepsiella vinosa, Lamarck, 1822. The NSW form has the sub-specific name of L. vinosa propinqua, Tennison Woods, 1876.

Lepsiella comes from the Greek word lepis, meaning a scale, and ella may come from the German word elle, derived from the Latin, ulna, meaning elbow, that refers to the distinct shoulder sometimes found on the shell's spire. Vinosa comes from the adjective vinous, pertaining to wine, and comes from Latin vinum.

Further Reading:

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p.113, New Holland Press, Sydney.

Edgar, G.J. (1997). Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. p.258, Reed.

Marine Research Group of Victoria (1984). Coastal Invertebrates of Victoria: An atlas of selected species. p.58, Museum of Victoria.

Macpherson, J.H. & Gabriel, C.J. (1962). Marine Molluscs of Victoria. p.178, Melbourne University Press.

Shepherd, S.A. & Thomas, I.M. (1989). Marine Invertebrates of Southern Australia. Pt. II. p.594, South Australian Govt. Printing.

Wells, F.E. & Bryce, C.W. (1988). Seashells of Western Australia. p.92, Western Australian Museum.

Wilson, B.R. & Gillett, K. (1979). A Field Guide to Australian Shells: Prosobranch Gastropods. p.158, Reed.

Acknowledgments:

Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey.

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