Moon snails & relatives

Moon snails Polinices lewisii are distinctive components of sand/mud substrata, noticeable not just because of their large size, but also because of their distinctively shaped egg collars.

NOTE  it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out why these globular shells are called “moon” snails.  They are common inhabitants of intertidal and subtidal sandy areas.  They are harvested as food in some areas, but are reportedly not particularly tasty, which probably explains why they are still relatively common. One author, however, would probably take exception to this comment regarding taste. She says that a "delicious" broth can be made by steaming the meat in its own fluids and an edible, but tough, "piece of variant meat" can be produced by frying the animal alive in butter.  Better still, she states that "no ill effects...were felt from that consumption" referring, one assumes, to herself and not to the snail being fried alive.  As for the notion that the meat is poisonous, the author reminds us that west-coast First-Nations shell middens are often well populated with moon-snail shells.

Kjerskog-Agersborg   1920   The Am Nat 54 (634): 414

ANIMATION of the snail's odyssey © Thomas Carefoot 2023
map used by the snail in A SNAIL'S ODYSSEY

To navigate through the ODYSSEY:

  • Select a TOPIC from the menu at the top of the screen
  • OR: play the animation to the left
  • OR: follow the snail's ODYSSEY by CLICKING on any X-marked invertebrate on the map above

Phylum Mollusca (lit. “soft” or “shellfish” L.)

Class Gastropoda (lit. “stomach foot” G.), referring to the body structure of viscera lying overtop of the muscular foot

SubClass Orthogastropoda (lit. “straight gastropod” G.), referring not to the shape of the shell but to their evolutionary history

SuperOrder Caenogastropoda (lit. “new or recent  gastropod” G.)

Order Hypsogastropoda (lit. “high gastropod” G.)

SubOrder Littorinimorpha (lit. “seashore form” G.)

Family Naticidea (lit. “buttocks” L.), including moon snails Neverita (Euspira) (Polinices) lewisii

NOTE the genus name for moon-snail species has changed several times (the list above includes just the most recent names). For simplicity, and since it's hard to keep up with the changes, the genus name used in the ODYSSEY will be the latest one with the older genus used by the author(s) included in parentheses