Common Marginella (Prunum apicinum Menke, 1828)

Common Marginella
Prunum apicinum Menke, 1828

Common Marginella:
A Meaningful Name

By Patricia B. Mitchell.

The Common Marginella may reach a height of 1/2-inch. It is a pretty little snail shell with a porcelaneous surface (the shells in the photo are rather worn and bleached). The colors of the shells of the living univalves range from yellow to orangey-brown. When the snail crawls, its mantle covers the snail — this protection keeps the snail's shell shiny and colorful.

The shell has 3 or 4 whorls; a very low spire; and a thick outer lip with tiny teeth on the inside surface. The outer lip is usually white, and sometimes has two chestnut-brown spots on it. The inner lip has four distinct pleats on the inner surface. The aperture, or opening, of Prunum apicinum is narrow, and runs nearly the whole length of the shell. On rare occasions, a sinistral Common Marginella may be found. This is a “left-handed” shell, with the spire turning to the left rather than the right. Most Prunum apicinum, obviously, are right-handed.

This univalve lives in shallow water. The shell washes up on the coasts of North Carolina all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. It can also be found on beaches in the West Indies. Representatives of the Marginella family can be found in warm waters in both hemispheres. Of the various species likely to be found on the Southeast coast of the United States, the Common Marginella is most common. (Well-named, isn't it?)


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