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Littoraria philippiana (Reeve, 1857)

Description: Shell lightweight, whorls rounded, occasionally with up to 3 varices, rarely up to 7. Fourth whorl of teleoconch with 8-9 thin, fine spiral grooves. Body whorl with 6 or 7 strong, thin, widely spaced spiral ribs above a prominent peripheral rib, and about 10 ribs below. Ribs above periphery with interspaces 4-6 times rib width, with numerous fine ribs and grooves. Columella wide, excavated; outer lip thin. Colour very variable; background of fawn, cream, reddish brown or yellow, overlain with dashes or stripes of black or dark brown. Columella purple or lilac (but faded in dead shells). Operculum corneous.

Size: Up to 38 mm in length, commonly 23-33 mm.

Distribution: Eastern Australia, as far south as Botany Bay; Torres Strait islands and south eastern Papua New Guinea.

Habitat: On the mangrove Rhizophora, usually on trunks, sometimes on leaves, 0.5-5.2 m above the ground. Found also on the trunks and leaves of the mangrove Avicennia. Common in the tropics, rare in NSW.

Comparison: See L. luteola.

Synonymy: Formerly frequently misidentified as Littorina scabra (Linnaeus, 1758), but see remarks for L. luteola.

Remarks: Common in Queensland, with a record from Tweed Heads on the Queensland-NSW border; only other records from NSW are from estuaries around Sydney.

Figs. 1,2:  Tweed Heads, NSW (C.318730)

Copyright Des Beechey 2005