From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Epitonium scalare shell.jpg
The sculpture of the shell of Epitonium scalare has raised ribs that are known as costae. Costae are an almost universal feature in shells of Epitonium species.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
(unranked): clade Caenogastropoda

clade Hypsogastropoda
informal group Ptenoglossa

Superfamily: Epitonioidea
Family: Epitoniidae
Genus: Epitonium
Röding, 1798
Type species
Epitonium scalare
Linnaeus, 1758

See text


See text

Epitonium is a genus of small predatory sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks. Epitonium is the type genus of the family Epitoniidae, the wentletraps.[1]

The common name wentletraps is derived from the Dutch word wenteltrap, denoting a spiral staircase. This refers to the striking form and sculpture of the shells of the mollusks in this genus, and to a lesser extent, the whole family.

The genus Epitonium has been divided in the past by some authors into several subgenera, but these subgenera were based only on shell characters and did not reflect the true underlying relationships or phylogeny.

Shell description[edit]

Epitonium shells are high-spired, and are all-white in most of the species within this genus. A few species are tinted with brown to varying degrees, or have a brown stripe on the shoulder of the whorl. The shells typically have blade-like vertical ribs, known as costae.


Wentletraps usually live in sand near sea anemones or corals.

Life habits[edit]

These snails are predators and feed by inserting their proboscis and biting out small pieces of the anemone's tissues. Some species of wentletrap feed on only one species of sea anemone, in other words they are species-specific in terms of their prey.

Synonymised genera[edit]

Many species that now are placed in the genus Epitonium have, over the years, been classified in other genera. These have become synonyms of Epitonium :[1]

  • Aciona Leach, 1815
  • Acutiscala de Boury, 1909
  • Amiciscala Jousseaume, 1912
  • Anguliscala de Boury, 1909
  • Avalitiscala de Boury, 1912
  • Cirratiscala de Boury, 1909 )
  • Connexiscala de Boury, 1909
  • Crenuliscala Iredale, 1936
  • Crisposcala de Boury, 1886
  • Cyclostoma Lamarck, 1799
  • Delicatiscala de Boury, 1909
  • Dulciscala de Boury, 1909
  • Eburniscala de Boury, 1909
  • Epitonium (Clathrus)
  • Evolutiscala de Boury, 1909
  • Firmiscala de Boury, 1909
  • Folaceiscala de Boury, 1912
  • Foraceiscala de Boury, 1911
  • Foveoscala de Boury, 1909
  • Fusicoscala Monterosato, 1890
  • Glabriscala de Boury, 1909
  • Graciliscala de Boury, 1909
  • Gradatiscala de Boury, 1909
  • Hirtoscala Monterosato, 1890
  • Hyaloscala de Boury, 1890
  • Innesiscala Jousseaume, 1912
  • Janthoscala Mörch, 1875
  • Labeoscala de Boury, 1912
  • Laeviscala de Boury, 1909
  • Lamelliscala de Boury, 1909
  • Lepidiscala de Boury, 1909
  • Limiscala de Boury, 1909
  • Limniscala Dollfus, 1913
  • Linctoscala Monterosato, 1890
  • Lineoscala de Boury, 1909
  • Mazescala Iredale, 1936
  • Melanopsis Férussac, 1807
  • Minutiscala de Boury, 1909
  • Nipponoscala Masahito & Habe, 1973
  • Nitidiscala de Boury, 1909
  • Nitidoscala Strong, 1930
  • Papyriscala de Boury, 1909
  • Parviscala de Boury, 1887
  • Perlucidiscala de Boury, 1912
  • Pudentiscala Iredale, 1938
  • Pupiscala Masahito, Kuroda & Habe, 1971
  • Resticuliscala Cossmann, 1912
  • Reticuliscala de Boury, 1909
  • Scala Mörch, 1852
  • Scalaria Lamarck, 1801
  • Scalarus Montfort, 1810 (Unjustified emendation of Scalaria)
  • Scalatarius Duméril, 1806
  • Sodaliscala de Boury, 1909
  • Sphaeroscala Monterosato, 1890
  • Spiniscala de Boury, 1909
  • Turbiniscala de Boury, 1909
  • Viciniscala de Boury, 1909


Epitonium hexagonum
Epitonium irregulare

Species within the genus Epitonium include:

Note: Some malacologists have recently placed many of the more than 600 named species into other genera, which were previously considered to be subgenera of the genus Epitonium. On the other hand, many species that belonged to subgenera of Epitonium are now included in Epitonium. These subgenera were based on details of the shell sculpture and not on molecular analysis.

See also[edit]

  • Wentletrap, an article about the family Epitoniidae.


  1. ^ a b Bouchet, P.; Gofas, S. (2010). Epitonium Röding, 1798. In: Bouchet, P.; Gofas, S.; Rosenberg, G. (2010) World Marine Mollusca database. Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=137943 on 2010-11-22