|Different views of a shell of Bolinus brandaris|
|Two shells of the spiny dye-murex|
Aranea cinera Perry, 1811
Bolinus brandaris (originally called Murex brandaris by Linnaeus), and commonly known as the purple dye murex or the spiny dye-murex, is a species of medium-sized predatory sea snail, an edible marine gastropod mollusk in the family Muricidae, the murex snails or the rock snails.
This snail lives in the central and western parts of the Mediterranean Sea and has been found on isolated coral atoll beaches in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea. It was known since ancient times as a source for purple dye and also as a popular food source under various names, among which sconciglio, from which comes the word scungilli.
This species lives on rocks in shallow water.
The adult shell size of this species is about 60 to 90 mm.
This species, like many other species in the family Muricidae, can produce a secretion which is milky and without color when fresh but which turns into a powerful and lasting dye when exposed to the air.
This was the mollusc species used by the ancients to produce Tyrian purple fabric dye.
Sea snails of the species Banded dye-murex Hexaplex trunculus were also used to produce a purple-blue or indigo dye. In both cases the mollusks secrete the dye in mucus from their hypobranchial glands.
It is a cannibalistic species. Intensive breeding in ancient Minoan civilizations revealed shells were pierced by fellow individuals possibly due to the high density of population in breeding tanks.
- Bolinus brandaris (Linnaeus, 1758). Houart, R.; Gofas, S. (2009). Bolinus brandaris (Linnaeus, 1758). In: Bouchet, P.; Gofas, S.; Rosenberg, G. World Marine Mollusca database. Accessed through the World Register of Marine Species at http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=140389 on 31 August 2010.
- Lister M. (1685-1692). Historia Conchyliorum.
- Radwin, G. E. & D'Attilio A. (1986). Murex shells of the world. An illustrated guide to the Muricidae. Stanford Univ. Press, Stanford, x + pp. 1-284 incl 192 figs. + 32 pls.
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