Are a large family of carnivorous snails, that prey on other shelled molluscs. The variety of shells present in this group is extensive; as is their beauty. Arguably these are among the most admired and desired of all shells. Some are quite colorful, but what really sets them apart is their frilly, spinny, delicate shapes and textures; that can be as delicate and thin as lace in some species.
84.5mm. Dampier. Western Australia
A large, attractive Australian species, that alike the other species of the genus, has three large wedged spines or wings on its main body whorl. The shell comes in a range of colors that goes from creamy white to chocolate brown. Some shells can have an orangish color.
Pteropurpura trialata Sowerby, 1834
82.7mm. Palos Verdes, California.
An extremely attractive Californian species, that grows to a handsome size and is strikingly decorated with contrasting dark bands on white background. Some shells are full white, but these are less common. Unfortunately it lives in a rough habitat, so large, fine examples such as the shell in the picture are somewhat uncommon.
Pterynotus elongatus Lightfoot, 1786
78mm. Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines
This classic was never among my favorite species, but it is a strange, rather intriguing shell, with a long shape and branching wings, that are usually covered with lime and coral, making the living shell a real challenge to find. On the bright side, these come in an array of attractive pastel colors, like pink, orange, or lilac - such as the portrayed specimen.
Pterynotus loebbeckei Kobelt, 1879
67mm. Tinina. Balut Is. Philippines
One of the glories of the family, and according to Peter Dance, the most beautiful natural object, Loebbeck´s murex has always been rare and coveted. The pictured specimen is undoubtedly a phenomenal piece: It is very large, has vibrant orange and the delicate lacey wings are extremely perfect. Shells such as this one are extremely rare, even today.
Pterynotus miyokoae Kosuge, 1979
64mmTinina. Balut Is. Philippines.
This genus has several species which are rare and prized by collectors. Pictured here is a Miyoko murex. a species that in my opinion ranks high amongst the most beautiful. These are usually taken from deep water tangle nets set in the Philippines. Shells can attain almost 3" but because they come from deep water, large, perfect shells are uncommon.
Siratus alabaster Reeve, 1845
136.4mm. Panglao Is. Bohol, Philippines
A classic beauty among all seashells, and extremely rare and sought-after during most of its history, this species is so readily available today that shells are used as decoration. Large, perfect examples are still hard to find - As a matter of fact the depicted specimen was selected because of its wings, but is far from being a large example.