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MUREXES

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. 

Chicoreus palmarosae Lamarck, 1822

94.9mm. Trincomalee, Sri Lanka.

One of my favorite shells! The stunning "Rose-branch murex" has several varieties. The classic form comes from Sri lanka; like the pictured specimen, which is absolutely the best among a dozen I own: this has top shape, color and condition, which is quite rare. Shells like this are unique and expensive. 

Cymia tecta Wood, 1828

60.5mm. Coiba Is. Panama.

A species of "rock shell" I found it irresistible to publish the picture of this rather obscure and seldomly seen shell because of its fascinating shape. It has very strong knobbs on a short, strangely slanted body whorl, which is encircled by thin spiral grooves. The shell is solid flesh in color, but the depicted specimen has its dark grey periostracum still intact.

Chicoreus saulii Sowerby, 1841

104.7mm. Sergakei, Okinawa, Japan.

A close relative to C. palmarosae, and also quite beautiful. This tends to have shorter fronds, and a more magenta hue, the columellar side of the lip is distinctively bordered in pink. Most shells in the market come from the Philippines. The depicted specimen is from Okinawa. Shells from this location seem to have longer spines and extremely intense colors

Murex pecten Lightfoot, 1786

184.4mm. Leyte Is. Philippines.

In my humble opinion: The most beautiful of all seashells. This has an extremely long siphonal canal. The body has three rows of thin, long spines, disposed like combs; hence the common name: "venus comb". Displayed here is a giant specimen, with an unusual lilac tint. Notice the broken spines: it is hard to find a perfect specimen, specially with this size!

Chicoreus spectrum Reeve, 1846

124.9mm. Guarapari, Espirito Santo, Brazil.

The American response to C. palmarosae. This has a very similar shape, but can reach sizes well over 6"! But in general, the larger they are, the poorer the condition. This combined with the fact that it is rather rare, makes large, perfect shells very expensive. There are several color forms, mostly brown tones; And a most attractive orange one.

Latiaxis mawae

Gray in Griffith & Pidgeon, 1834

47.3mm. Siquijor Island, Philippines

An intriguingly sulptured, deep water coral shell, that is among the larget in its family of flower-looking species. Most L. mawae are chalky white and severely covered with tube worms. Here´s an exceptionally colored specimen, with its delicate sculpture mostly intact.