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Nodilittorina acutispira (Family Littorinidae)

Dark Littorina



The Dark Littorina has a very restricted distribution range in eastern Australia. It only occurs on the coasts of southern Qld and NSW (QLD, NSW).


The Dark Littorina is a very small, long, turban-shaped dark-coloured littorinid that is easily overlooked. It grows to a size of 7mm, but is usually smaller. It has four to six rounded whorls. Its shell is sculptured with weak spiral bevelled ridges over the whorl surface, and irregular, coarse axial growth lines. Its spire is more than half the length of shell. It has an oval-shaped aperture.

The Dark Littorina is variable in colour. It is light yellowish-brown to dark brown in colour, with a wide spiral band of brown to grey encircling the body whorl and the anterior (front) 2/3 of the spire whorls. Its body whorl is speckled with white spots. The shell's outer lip has a broad white band.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Dark Littorina is quite common in rock pools, especially on the flat platforms of the Hawkesbury Sandstone, but because of small size and dark colouration, it is easily overlooked. It may occur quite high on the shore, and be exposed for long periods when the tide recedes. It is a micro-algae feeder. It is so small, that it looks like grains of dark coloured grit, or broken down fragments of coal. In some areas it may coat the rock surface in their thousands, and still be ignored.

Preferred Image

Other Comments:

Nodilittorina acutispira, Smith, E. A., 1892. Nodilittorina is made up of two Latin words. Nodi is a Latin word that is the plural of nodus, meaning swellings, knobs or lumps, while littorina comes from the Latin word littoralis or litoris meaning shore. Acutispira comes from the Latin word acutus, to sharpen, from the root ak, sharp, while spira comes from the Greek word speira meaning a coil.

Further Reading:

Bennett, I. (1987). W. J. Dakin's classic study: Australian Seashores: a guide to the temperate shores for the beach-lover, the naturalist, the shore-fisherman and the student. p.282, Angus & Robertson.

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p.102, 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.313-4.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey.

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Images and Multi-media:  
Attached Image  
image/jpeg 21676 bytes Dark Littorina
Distribution Map  
image/gif 904 bytes Distribution of Dark Littorina

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