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Ranella australasia (Perry, 1811)

Description: Shell heavy with two varices per whorl. Sculpture on shoulder variable; smooth or with one or two rows of nodules, weak in shallow water shells and strong in deep water specimens. Whole shell covered with irregular spiral riblets. Outer lip with about nine strong, elongate teeth; columella with a strong tooth posteriorly and, on large shells, several lirae anteriorly. Anterior canal short. Exterior coloration uniform dark brown, varices alternating white and brown. Interior and columella white. Covered with a thick velvety periostracum when alive. Operculum oval.

Size: Up to 130 mm in length, intertidal specimens typically 80 mm.

Distribution: Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. In Australia, from Tin Can Bay, Qld, to Houtman Abrolhos, WA, including Tasmania.

Habitat: On rocky shores on the open coast, intertidally and down to 350 m. Common.

Synonym: Iredale described the NSW deepwater form as a subspecies, Mayena australasia benthicola Iredale, 1929, on the grounds that it has two strong, nodulose peripheral keels, while the intertidal form generally has only one.

Figs. 1,2: Sydney (DLB1968)


Copyright Des Beechey 2000