This is a very interesing group of molluscs that live and feed on cnidarians. The vast majority of the shells in this family are tiny, and mostly white. There are a few species however that have appreciable size and fantastic sculpture. Some of thse shells are pictured here; some are arguably among the most beautiful of all shells, like Epitonium scalare and Elegantiscala rugosum. Some large species are also extremely rare.

Amaea ferminiana Dall, 1908

70.3mm. off Coiba Island, Panama.

Species in the Genus Amaea can be recognized immediately by having the same basic sculpture: Elongated shape, rounded whorls and small criss-crossed ribs and ridges. A. ferminiana is among the larger species. This is rather stocky and has a mocha-brown tint. The species is very similar, but  larger than its Caribbean counterpart A. mitchelli.

Elegantiscala rugosum Röding, 1798

93.4mm. Balut Island, Philippines.

Pictured here is a large specimen, displaying a beautiful sculpture, with long, winged ribs set around the very tall body whorl. The apex is in pretty good shape as well, only missing the very top. Overall, prtty good shape for a dead-taken shell. These shells can grow beyond 4". A full sized, live taken, gem specimen, is as admirable as it is rare.

Epitonium scalare Linnaeus, 1758

69.7mm. Vietnam.

Once a gret rarity, today a common and inexpensive item, that can be bought with a few dollars. Still, though, among the most beautiful of all shells. The main body is tubular, with flared ribs placed uniformly throughout. The coils grow loosely, leaving spece within the worls, and a very deep, open umbilicus. Shells nearing 3"are not common at all.

Cirsotrema varicosa

Lamarck, 1822

66.2mm. Olango Island, Philippines

An attractive, rather large species. This shell is very elongated, the surface is matte, chalky white. It is adorned with a texture like fine lace.

Eburniscala imperiale

Sowerby, G.B. I, 1844

34.4mm. Queensland, Australia.

A very elegant, cream colored, colsely-ribbed Australian species. The shell is lightweight. The depicted specimen is already large.

Gyroscala lamellosa

Lamarck, J.B.P.A. de, 1822

33.6mm. Savona. Italia.

A very widespread, yet strikingly beautiful species: The main body is dark grey, the thin, lamellated ribs are contrastingly white.

Janthina janthina

Linnaeus, 1758

36.2mm. Key Biscayne. Florida. USA.

Nothing like walking to the beach at dawn, after a spring storm and picking these up, fresh and with the deep purple color still vibrant.