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Phasianella ventricosa (Family Turbinidae)

Swollen Pheasant Shell or Painted Lady



The Swollen Pheasant Shell has a temperate Australian distribution and ranges from NSW, around southern shores, including Vic, Tas, and SA to Geraldton, WA. (NSW, VIC, TAS, SA, WA)


The Swollen Pheasant Shell is a very beautifully marked shell with great diversity of colour patterns. Its shell is large, thin, elongate and turban-shaped, pointed at one end. The spire height is 1.5 times the shell width. It grows to a length of 100mm, and a diameter of 30-40mm across. There are 5 or 6 whorls. This species has a more rounded and swollen shell than its relative the Pheasant Shell or Painted Lady, Phasianella australis.

The shell has a highly polished lustre. It does not have an outer covering epidermis. The shell exterior is very smooth, with no sculpture, except for the suture around the whorl. The aperture is oval in outline, with a heavy calcareous, white-coloured operculum. The shell interior is white. The Swollen Pheasant Shell may be uni- coloured, while others are zebra-striped.

Several distinct colour patterns occur:
(1) Rose pink base colour with wavy brown bands, yellow flecks and thin spiral lines of yellow and brown dashes,
(2) like 1, but with broader brown bands forming axial stripes,
(3) a red-brown base colour with splotches of yellow or pink. Thin lines of long brown dashes and spots,
(4) red-brown coloured overall.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Swollen Pheasant Shell occurs in regions where sand and rocks meet on protected shores. They prefer areas with a strong growth of algae, on which they feed. The adults are commonly found on kelps and laminarians while the juveniles appear to prefer being under rocks on reefs on medium to high energy shores, down to 10 metres depth.

Preferred Image

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The Swollen Pheasant Shell appears to be common across it distribution range and is probably under no threat from human interaction.

Other Comments:

Phasianella ventricosa, Swainson, 1822. Phasianella perdix, and Mimelenchus ventricosa, Iredale, 1924, are synonyms. Phasia comes from the Greek word phasis, meaning to shine. Ventricosa comes from the Latin ventis, meaning the wind or being exposed to the air, while cosa may come from the Greek word kosmeo, meaning to adorn.

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,279, Angus and Robertson.

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p.91, New Holland Press, Sydney.

Edgar, G.J. (1997). Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. p.242, Reed.

Jansen, P. (2000), Seashells of South-East Australia. p.16, Capricornia Publications.

Jones, D. and Morgan, G. (1994). A Field Guide to Crustaceans of Australian waters. Reed.

Macpherson, J.H. and Gabriel, C.J. (1962). Marine Molluscs of Victoria. p.83, Melbourne University Press.

Marine Research Group of Victoria (1984). Coastal Invertebtrates of Victoria: An atlas of selected species. p.43, Museum of Victoria.

Shepherd, S.A. and Thomas, I.M. (1989). Marine Invertebrates of Southern Australia. Pt. II. p.562, South Australian Govt. Printing.

Wells, F.E. and Bryce, C.W. (1988). Seashells of Western Australia. p.48, Western Australian Museum.

Wilson, B.R. and Gillett, K. (1979). A Field Guide to Australian Shells: Prosobranch Gastropods. p.46, Reed.


Text, map and photograph by Keith Davey.

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Images and Multi-media:  
Attached Image  
image/jpeg 26028 bytes Swollen Pheasant Shell
Distribution Map  
image/gif 1014 bytes Distribution of Swollen Pheasant Shell

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