Taxon profile


Aporrhais pespelecani (C. Linnaeus, 1758)

kingdom Animalia - animals »  phylum Mollusca - mollusks »  class Gastropoda - gastropods »  order Littorinimorpha »  family Aporrhaidae - Pelicans Foot »  genus Aporrhais

Scientific synonyms

Strombus pespelecani Linnaeus, 1758
Chenopus pespelecani (C. Linnaeus, 1758)
Aporrhais pespelecanis (misspelling) m
Aporrhais pespelecani var. aculeus Coen, 1933
Rostellaria aladraconis Perry, 1811
Aporrhais pespelecani var. albida Jeffreys, 1867
Aporrhais aldrovandi Capellini, 1860
Aporrhais pespelecani var. bifida Coen, 1931
Aporrhais pespelecani var. bilobata Clement, 1873
Fusus fragilis Risso, 1826


Taxon in country check-lists*

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It is a very changeable species with quite a lot of varieties. There are often anomalies and monstrosities too. On the external lip the four fingerings, changeable in length and thickness, are a characteristic of this species. Shell solid, sculpture made by flexuous axial ribs crossed by one cord originating some nodules quite clear, two cords on the last whorl originating two fingerings. Sometimes there is one third nodulous cord less broad. Surface crossed by very fine spiral little cords. Internally the fingerings are covered with one groove in their median part. Siphonal canal ends in the caudal fingering. From dirty white to brown, to reddish in colour pattern, but there can be found specimens violaceous too. The typical fingerings are missing in the yuvenile specimens but they are easily recognizable. Embryonal whorls show a smart reticulated sculpture. There were described many varieties in form and in colour pattern. It is easily recognizable from its similar one A. serresianus (Michaud, 1828) the shell of which is slighter, with five fingerings narrower and more stretched.
The adult specimens average measures are around 40-50 mm in height.
Scaperrotta, M. ,Bartolini, S. & Bogi, C., 2009. Accrescimenti, Vol. 2. Stages of growth of marine molluscs of the Mediterranean Sea. (secondary description)
Shell of medium to large size, up to 65 mm with a high spire. Dwarf specimens exist and have been described as conemenosi Monterosato. Spire with 10 to 12 angulate whorls, giving a scalariform appearance. Numerous growthlines and fine raised spirals. On the third whorl longitudinal costae appear, gradually changing into rounded, elongated knobs. The transition is completed on the fifth whorl. The penultimate whorl has 9 to 13 of the knobs. On the body whorl there are two spiral cords below the shoulder knobs, the upper one being very distinct and also bearing rounded knobs, the lower one varying from distinct to rather indistinct. Outer lip with four broad digits. The first digit may be attached to the spire along the total length, but may also be pointing more or less away from the spire. It hardly ever reaches beyond the apex. The second and third digit are the continuation of the shoulder cord resp. the middle cord. The second digit is always larger than the third. Below the third digit there is a lobe, sometimes indistinct. Rostrum short to medium sized, but always broadened at the base. This rostrum may point more or less towards the ventral side. In gerontic specimens the digits are thickened, a feature A. serresiana does not have. This also counts for the columellar callus. The colour of the shell varies from white to pale brown. According to Yonge (1937) the animal is "...yellowish white with red speckling which often extends over the foot, including the sole. The snout and head are thickly speckled with scarlet, while the tentacles are mingled yellow and scarlet."
Kronenberg, G.C., 1992. The recent species of the family Aporrhaidae (Gastropoda Prosobranchia)
Diagnostic characters
Shell solid, opaque, spire tall; outer lip expanded into a plate shaped like the webbed foot of a bird, its apical point ending below the tip of the spire, its basal part thickened and bent.

Other characters
The shell is a little glossy. There are 8-10 persistent whorls but some have always been lost from the apex; they are swollen and bear numerous opistho-cline costae. The last whorl has also two spiral bands of tubercles on its base; these and the costae (which then shorten to tubercles) run on to the abapertural side of the expanded outer lip. The lip has five lobes: the most apical lies alongside the spire, 2-4 form points on the expansion, the fifth projects basally and curves a little towards the aperture, which is an obliquely elongated rectangle. Cream or tawny, the outer lip and edge of the aperture darker. Up to 45 mm high (measured from tip of spire to tip of fifth lobe), 30 mm broad (measured to edge of outer lip); last whorl occupies about 55% of shell height, aperture (measured from tip of first lobe to tip of fifth) 75-80%.
There is a long tapering snout; tentacles arise from its base, each with a basal eye. In males a recurved, tentaculiform penis arises behind the right tentacle, with an open seminal groove. The foot is shield-shaped and rather narrow, tapering to a point posteriorly. The operculum is also narrow and lies across the foot. The flesh is mainly white, but the snout, the dorsal surface of the tentacles and patches on the foot are carmine; in addition there are yellow flecks on the snout and tentacles, and white ones on the foot.
A. pespelecani ranges from the Mediterranean to northern Norway and Iceland and occurs abundantly in almost all appropriate habitats round the British Isles, though less common in Scilly, Channel Islands, eastern Channel and southern North Sea. It is a detritus feeder and browser living partly buried (Yonge, 1937) in muddy-sandy bottoms to depths of 180 m, never intertidaliy, occasionally moving from one site to another (Barnes & Bagenal, 1952). The method of locomotion is laborious (Weber, 1925). The expansion of the outer lip does not develop until the shell has about eight whorls.
The breeding period extends from March to July or August. Spherical egg capsules, each containing one egg, are attached singly or in small groups to the substratum. The egg develops to a veliger larva in about two weeks. This has a 2-lobed velum, each lobe with a red line round its margin and a red terminal blotch. Later the velum becomes first 4-, then 6-lobed. Larval life seems to be extended (Lebour, 1933c).
Graham, A.; 1988. Molluscs: Prosobranch and Pyramidellid Gastropods.

Interchangeable taxa

At the limits of its range, the adults of this species have a tendency to become smaller. Sometimes, especially within Atlantic specimens the second and third digit are very much broadened and hardly elongated, giving the impression of one broad flaring outer lip. Most specimens observed had their protoconch broken off. A septum is formed there, so we may assume that breaking off is a normal phenomenon within this species.
Kronenberg, G.C., 1992. The recent species of the family Aporrhaidae (Gastropoda Prosobranchia)


It can be found all over the Mediterranean. More common in the Adriatic Sea and in the Tuscan Archipelago (Italy)
Scaperrotta, M. ,Bartolini, S. & Bogi, C., 2009. Accrescimenti, Vol. 2. Stages of growth of marine molluscs of the Mediterranean Sea. (secondary description)
Eastern Atlantic, from Iceland to Mauretania. including the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The southern limit in the Atlantic appears to be the Banc d'Arguin, Mauritania. There is a record of two specimens from the Red Sea (Sharabati, 1984: 28, Pl. 7 fig. 1) but in the authors opinion it is not very probable that this species actually lives there.
Kronenberg, G.C., 1992. The recent species of the family Aporrhaidae (Gastropoda Prosobranchia)
Author: Jan Delsing

Links and literature

EN Galli C.: WMSDB - Wolrdwide Mollusc Species Data Base July 10, 2013 [] [as Aporrhais pespelicani (Linnaeus, 1758)]
Data retrieved on: 23 November 2013
EN Wieneke U., Stoutjesdijk H.: Stromboidea Wiki [] [as Aporrhais pespelecani (Linnaeus, 1758)]
CZ Pfleger V. (1999): České názvy živočichů III. Měkkýši (Mollusca), Národní muzeum, (zoologické odd.), Praha, 108 pp. [as Aporrhais pespelecani (LINNÉ, 1758)]
Data retrieved on: 11 November 2013
IT Repetto G., Orlando F. & Arduino G. (2005): Conchiglie del Mediterraneo, Amici del Museo "Federico Eusebio", Alba, Italy [as Aporrhais pespelecani (Linné, 1758)]
EN Petović S., Gvozdenović S., Ikica Z. (2017): An Annotated Checklist of the Marine Molluscs of the South Adriatic Sea (Montenegro) and a Comparison with Those of Neighbouring Areas, Turkish Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 17: 921-934 [as Aporrhais pespelecani (Linnaeus, 1758)]
SP Tarruella Ruestes, A. & Fontanet Giner, M. (2001): Moluscos marinos del Golf de Sant Jordi (L'Ampolla) y del Port dels Alfacs, Spira, 1(1): 1-5 [as Aporrhais pespelecani (Linnaeus, 1758)]
SP Tarruella Ruestes, A. (2002): Moluscos marinos de Cap Ras y Llançà (Girona, NE de la península Ibérica), Spira, 1(2): 1-14 [as Aporrhais pespelecani (Linnaeus, 1758)]

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