Coralliophila neritoidea, copyright Philippe Bourjon.

Belongs within: Muricidae.

The Coralliophilinae, coral shells, are a group of gastropods that live in close association with cnidarians such as corals, attached to the surface or embedded within the coral skeleton. Members of this family lack a radula (Wilson & Gillett 1971) and have a protoconch with an ornament of hemispherical tubercles overlain and connected to each other by a wrinkled net of lamellae (Bandel & Dockery 2012). They are believed to feed on fluids or mucus from their cnidarian host. In the genus Magilus, the shell becomes uncoiled after the first few whorls and forms an irregular tube.

The coral-lovers
Published 11 June 2012
The free-living (but, from the look of it, not particularly mobile) coralliophiline Latiaxis mawae, photographed by Merlin Charon.

While the subjects of today’s posts, the gastropods of the Coralliophilinae, might have a name that translates as ‘lovers of coral’, it seems likely that the corals do not love them. Members of the Coralliophilinae are a group of about 250 species of specialised predators/parasites of corals and other cnidarians. They vary in habits from free-living grazers to species that live embedded within their coral host, and as a result they vary in external appearance. However, their internal anatomy is fairly consistent, with all species lacking a radula and having a similar gut anatomy. As far as is known, they are all protandrous hermaphrodites, maturing from males to females as they grow larger. The females brood their eggs within the mantle cavity. Phylogenetic analysis has indicated a relationship with the subfamilies Rapaninae (the oyster drills) and Ergalataxinae in the Muricidae, and the recent tendency has been to treat the coralliophilines as a subfamily of the latter (Barco et al. 2010).

The endobiotic Magilus striatus, with a close-up of the coiled juvenile shell, photographed by Femorale.

Like other muricids, many of the free-living coralliophilines (such as species in the genera Latiaxis and Babelomurex) are strikingly ornamented with spiny shells. Those that live in closer association with their coral hosts, however, show a corresponding reduction in ornamentation. Members of the genus Rapa, feeding on soft corals, have inflated, relatively flat-spired shells. Most derived of all, perhaps, is the boring genus Magilus, in which the shell, after an initial coiled section, becomes uncoiled and tubular to form a channel to the outer wall of the host coral. The simplified shell morphology of the endoparasitic forms means that species can be exceedingly difficult to distinguish. A study of the genus Leptoconchus, internal parasites of mushroom corals, by Gittenberger & Gittenberger (2011) identified fourteen molecularly distinct species, each associated with a different species of coral. However, morphological variation between specimens did not reliably correlate with molecular and host-association data and could not be used to distinguish species. In comparison, a study of the host-nonspecific free-living species Coralliophila meyendorffii found that, despite the clear distinction of a larger form feeding on sea anemones vs a smaller form feeding on corals, the two forms were not resolved as molecularly distinct and there was inadequate support for the recognition of the forms as separate species (Oliverio & Mariottini 2001).

The bubble turnip Rapa rapa, photographed by Eddie Hardy.
Systematics of Coralliophilinae
<==Coralliophilinae [Coralliophilidae, Magilidae]
    |--Quoyula Iredale 1912WG71
    |    `--*Q. madreporarum (Sowerby 1832)W94 (see below for synonymy)
    |--Latimurex Coen 1922EA65, RA75
    |    `--*L. meyendorffi (Calcara 1845) [=Murex meyendorffi]RA75
    |--Emozamia Iredale 1929W94
    |    `--*E. licinus (Hedley & Petterd 1906) [=Murex licinus]RA75
    |--Magilus Montfort 1810BD12
    |    |--*M. antiquus Montfort 1810 (see below for synonymy)W94
    |    `--M. striatus (Ruppel 1835)W94
    |--Latiaxis Swainson 1840BC01, RA75
    |    |--*L. mawae (Griffith & Pidgeon 1834) [=Pyrula mawae]W94
    |    `--L. muricata (Hinds 1843) [incl. L. hindsi (Carpenter 1857), Coralliophila oldroydi (Oldroyd 1929)]EO65
    |--Leptoconchus Rüppell 1834BD12, RA75
    |    |--*L. peroni Lamarck 1818RA75
    |    `--L. monodonta [incl. Purpura (Coralliophila) madreporarum, Rhizocheilus madreporarum]C64
    |--Coralliobia Adams & Adams 1853BD12, RA75
    |    |--*C. fimbriata (Adams 1852)RA75, BD12 (see below for synonymy)
    |    |--C. cancellata Pease 1861K65
    |    `--C. sculptilis Pease 1865K65
    |--Rapa Röding 1798BR05 (see below for synonymy)
    |    |--*R. rapa (Linnaeus 1758)RA75 (see below for synonymy)
    |    |--R. bulbiformis Sowerby 1870W94
    |    |--R. incurva (Dunker 1852) [incl. R. penaldi Montrouzier 1856]W94
    |    `--R. rapiformis (Born 1778) [=Murex rapiformis]H09
    |--Hirtomurex Coen 1922 [incl. Fusomurex Coen 1922]W94
    |    |--*H. lamellosus (Philippi 1836)RA75 [=Fusus lamellosusW94]
    |    |--‘Purpura’ alucoides Blainville 1829 [=*Fusomurex alucoides]RA75
    |    |--H. garrardi (d’Attilio 1968) [=Latiaxis (Pseudomurex) garrardi]BC01
    |    |--H. nakamurai Kosuge 1985W94
    |    `--H. teramachii (Kuroda 1959)W94
    |--Mipus de Gregorio 1855W94
    |    |--*M. gyratus (Hinds 1844)RA75 (see below for synonymy)
    |    |--M. arbutum (Woolacott 1954)W94
    |    |--M. eugeniae (Bernardi 1853)W94
    |    |--M. nodosus (Adams 1854)W94
    |    `--M. vicdani (Kosuge 1980)W94
    |--Babelomurex Coen 1922BC01 [incl. Langfordia Dall 1924W94, Tolema Iredale 1929W94]
    |    |  i. s.: B. cariniferus (Sowerby 1834)RL04
    |    |         B. deroyorum D’Attilio & Myers 1984BC01
    |    |         B. gilli Kosuge 1990BC01
    |    |         B. japonicus (Dunker 1882) [=Latiaxis japonicus]EA65
    |    |         B. longispinosus (Suzuki 1972) [incl. Latiaxis pisori D’Attilio & Emerson 1980]BC01
    |    |--B. (Babelomurex)W94
    |    |    |--*B. (B.) babelis (Requien 1848) [=Fusus babelis]RA75
    |    |    |--B. (B.) armatus (Sowerby 1912)W94
    |    |    |--B. (B.) dalli (Emerson & D’Attilio 1963) [=Latiaxis (B.) dalli]BC01
    |    |    |--B. (B.) fearnleyi (Emerson & D’Attilio 1965) [=Latiaxis (B.) fearnleyi]BC01
    |    |    |--B. (B.) kawamurai (Kira 1959)W94
    |    |    |--B. (B.) lischkeanus (Dunker 1882)W94 (see below for synonymy)
    |    |    |--B. (B.) nakamigawai (Kuroda 1959)W94
    |    |    |--B. (B.) santacruzensis (Emerson & D’Attilio 1970) [=Latiaxis (B.) santacruzensis]BC01
    |    |    `--B. (B.) spinosus (Hirase 1908)W94
    |    |--B. (Echinolatiaxis Kosuge 1979)W94
    |    |    `--B. (*E.) echinatus [=Latiaxis echinatus]W94
    |    |--B. (Laevilatiaxis Kosuge 1974)W94
    |    |    `--B. (*L.) fruticosus [=Latiaxis fruticosus]W94
    |    `--B. (Lamellatiaxis Habe & Kosuge 1970)W94
    |         `--B. (*L.) marumai (Habe & Kosuge 1970)W94, RA75 [=Latiaxis (*L.) marumaiW94]
    `--Coralliophila Adams & Adams 1853BR05 [incl. Latiromurex Coen 1922W94, Lepadomurex Coen 1922W94]
         |  i. s.: C. aberrans (Adams 1850) [=Purpura aberrans]MP65
         |         C. aldrichi (Cossmann 1903)BD12
         |         C. armeniaca D’Attilio & Myers 1984BC01
         |         ‘Purpura’ brevis Blainville 1932 [=*Lepadomurex brevis]RA75
         |         C. bulbiformis (Conrad 1837) (see below for synonymy)W94
         |         C. burdigalensis Tournouer 1874BD12
         |         C. caribaea Abbott 1958 [incl. Ringicula cruzensis Usticke 1969] BC01
         |         C. clathrata (Adams 1854) [incl. C. sugimotonis Kuroda 1931]W94
         |         C. confusa Kosuge 1986W94
         |         C. costularis (Lamarck 1816)W94 [=Latimurex costularisEA65; incl. C. retusa Adams & Adams 1863W93]
         |         C. craticulatus (Linnaeus 1758)BW09
         |         C. elvirae D’Attilio & Emerson 1980BC01
         |         C. erosa (Röding 1798)BD12
         |         C. fragosa Smith 1916W94
         |         C. guancha Smriglio, Mariottini & Engl 2003F05
         |         C. imbricata (Smith 1876) [=Fusus imbricatus]H09
         |         C. infantula Kosuge 1985W93
         |         C. inflata (Dunker in Philippi 1847) [incl. C. akibumii Kira 1959]W94
         |         C. jeffreysi Smith 1879 [incl. C. jeffreysi hiradoensis Pilsbry 1904]W94
         |         C. macleani Shasky 1970BC01
         |         C. mira (Cotton & Godfrey 1932)W94
         |         C. nux (Reeve 1846)S11
         |         C. occidentale Kosuge & Fernandes 1988BC01
         |         C. radula (Adams 1855) [incl. C. pyriformis Kira 1959]W94
         |         C. raramaculatus Kosuge & Fernandes 1989BC01
         |         C. rocasuciae Myers & D’Attilio 1990BC01
         |         C. squamosissima (Smith 1876) [incl. C. stearnsii Pilsbry 1895]W94
         |         C. squamulosa (Reeve 1846) [=Purpura squamulosa]H09
         |         C. trigoi Mariottini, Smriglio & Rolán 2005F05
         |         C. violacea (Kiener 1836)BD12
         |         C. wilsoni Pritchard & Gatliff 1898W94
         |--*C. (Coralliophila) neritoidea (Gmelin 1791)BR17 (see below for synonymy)
         `--C. (Pseudomurex Monterosato 1872)O27
              |--‘Murex’ bracteata Brocchi 1814 [=*Pseudomurex bracteatus]RA75
              |--C. (P.) costata Blainville 1832O27
              |--C. (P.) kincaidi Dall 1919O27
              `--‘Pseudomurex’ lamellosusPP64

Babelomurex (Babelomurex) lischkeanus (Dunker 1882)W94 [incl. Latiaxis australis Laseron 1955EA65, W94, B. australisEA65, Tolema australisRA75, Tolema peregrina Powell 1947P61, W94, Purpura sertata Hedley 1902RA75, W94, *Tolema sertataW94]

*Coralliobia fimbriata (Adams 1852)RA75, BD12 [=Concholepas fimbriataRA75, Leptoconchus (Coralliobia) fimbriata Adams & Adams 1853 (n. n.)RA75]

Coralliophila bulbiformis (Conrad 1837) [incl. C. cantrainei Montrouzier in Souverbie 1861, C. elaborata Adams & Adams 1863]W94

*Coralliophila (Coralliophila) neritoidea (Gmelin 1791)BR17 [=Murex neritoideusBR17, Fusus neritoideusRA75; incl. Coralliophila diversiformis Kiener 1836W94]

*Magilus antiquus Montfort 1810 [incl. M. cumingii Deshayes 1863, M. cuvieri Deshayes 1863, M. globulosus Sowerby 1872, M. microcephalus Sowerby 1872, M. peroni Lamarck 1818, M. ruppeli Deshayes 1863, M. serratus Sowerby 1872]W94

*Mipus gyratus (Hinds 1844)RA75 [=Trophon gyratusW94; incl. M. fusiformis Chenu 1853W94, M. idoleum Jones 1847W94, M. tortilis Adams & Adams 1864W94]

*Quoyula madreporarum (Sowerby 1832)W94 [incl. Purpura monodonta Quoy & Gaimard 1833RA75, W94, Galeropsis monodontaH09, Quoyula monodontaRA75]

Rapa Röding 1798BR05 [incl. Bulbus Hermannsen 1848 non Brown 1839W94, Rapanus Schum. in Sowerby 1839RA75, Rapella Swainson 1840RA75; Rapidae]

*Rapa rapa (Linnaeus 1758)RA75 [=Murex rapaRA75, Bulla rapaRA75; incl. Pyrula papyracea Lamarck 1816RA75, *Rapanus papyraceusRA75, *Rapella papracia (l. c.)RA75, Rapa pellucida Röding 1798W94, Rapa striata Röding 1798W94, Rapa tenuis Adams & Adams 1858W94]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[BD12] Bandel, K., & D. T. Dockery III. 2012. Protoconch characters of Late Cretaceous Latrogastropoda (Neogastropoda and Neomesogastropoda) as an aid in the reconstruction of the phylogeny of the Neogastropoda. Freiberger Forschungshefte C542 (psf 20): 93–128.

Barco, A., M. Claremont, D. G. Reid, R. Houart, P. Bouchet, S. T. Williams, C. Cruaud, A. Couloux & M. Oliverio. 2010. A molecular phylogenetic framework for the Muricidae, a diverse family of carnivorous gastropods. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 56: 1025–1039.

[BR05] Bouchet, P., & J.-P. Rocroi. 2005. Classification and nomenclator of gastropod families. Malacologia 47 (1–2): 1–397.

[BR17] Bouchet, P., J.-P. Rocroi, B. Hausdorf, A. Kaim, Y. Kano, A. Nützel, P. Parkhaev, M. Schrödl & E. E. Strong. 2017. Revised classification, nomenclator and typification of gastropod and monoplacophoran families. Malacologia 61 (1–2): 1–526.

[BC01] Boyko, C. B., & J. R. Cordeiro. 2001. Catalog of Recent type specimens in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History. V. Mollusca, part 2 (class Gastropoda [exclusive of Opisthobranchia and Pulmonata], with supplements to Gastropoda [Opisthobranchia], and Bivalvia). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 262: 1–170.

[BW09] Bryce, C., & C. Whisson. 2009. The macromolluscs of Mermaid (Rowley Shoals), Scott and Seringapatam Reefs, Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 77: 177–208.

[C64] Carpenter, P. P. 1864. Supplementary report on the present state of our knowledge with regard to the Mollusca of the west coast of North America. Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 33: 517–686.

[EA65] Emerson, W. K., & A. D’Attilio. 1965. A new Latiaxis from the western Pacific (Muricidae). Nautilus 78 (3): 101–103.

[EO65] Emerson, W. K., & W. E. Old Jr. 1965. New molluscan records for the Galapagos Islands. Nautilus 78 (4): 116–120.

[F05] Fernández, J. 2005. Noticia de nuevos táxones para la ciencia en el ámbito Íbero-Balear y Macaronésico. Nuevos táxones animales descritos en la península Ibérica y Macaronesia desde 1994 (IX). Graellsia 61 (2): 261–282.

Gittenberger, A., & E. Gittenberger. 2011. Cryptic, adaptive radiation of endoparasitic snails: sibling species of Leptoconchus (Gastropoda: Coralliophilidae) in corals. Organisms Diversity & Evolution 11: 21–41.

[H09] Hedley, C. 1909. The Marine Fauna of Queensland: Address by the President of Section D. Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science: Brisbane.

[K65] Kay, E. A. 1965. Marine molluscs in the Cuming collection, British Museum (Natural History) described by William Harper Pease. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History): Zoology Supplement 1: 1–96, 14 pls.

[MP65] Merrill, A. S., & R. E. Petit. 1965. Mollusks new to South Carolina. Nautilus 79 (2): 58–66.

[O27] Oldroyd, I. S. 1927. The Marine Shells of the West Coast of North America vol. 2 pt 2. Stanford University Press: Stanford University (California).

Oliverio, M., & P. Mariottini. 2001. Contrasting morphological and molecular variation in Coralliophila meyendorffii (Muricidae, Coralliophilinae). Journal of Molluscan Studies 67: 243–246.

[PP64] Peres, J. M., & J. Picard. 1964. Nouveau manuel de bionomie benthique de la mer Mediterranee. Recueil des Travaux de la Station Marine d’Endoume, Bulletin 31 (27): 5–137.

[P61] Powell, A. W. B. 1961. Shells of New Zealand: An illustrated handbook 4th ed. Whitcombe and Tombs Limited: Christchurch.

[RA75] Radwin, G. E., & A. D’Attilio. 1975. A catalogue of muricacean generic taxa. Transactions of the San Diego Society of Natural History 17 (20): 279–292.

[RL04] Richter, A., & Á. A. Luque. 2004. Epitonium dendrophylliae (Gastropoda: Epitoniidae) feeding on Astroides calycularis (Anthozoa, Scleractinia). Journal of Molluscan Studies 70: 99–101.

[S11] Simone, L. R. L. 2011. Phylogeny of the Caenogastropoda (Mollusca), based on comparative morphology. Arquivos de Zoologia 42 (4): 161–323.

[W94] Wilson, B. 1994. Australian Marine Shells vol. 2. Prosobranch Gastropods. Part Two (Neogastropods). Odyssey Publishing: Kallaroo (Western Australia).

[WG71] Wilson, B. R., & K. Gillett. 1971. Australian Shells: illustrating and describing 600 species of marine gastropods found in Australian waters. A. H. & A. W. Reed: Sydney.

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