Bolinus brandaris

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Bolinus brandaris
Bolinus brandaris 01.jpg
Different views of a shell of Bolinus brandaris
Haustellum brandaris 000.jpg
Two shells of the spiny dye-murex
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
(unranked): clade Caenogastropoda
clade Hypsogastropoda
clade Neogastropoda
Superfamily: Muricoidea
Family: Muricidae
Genus: Bolinus
Species: B. brandaris
Binomial name
Bolinus brandaris
(Linnaeus, 1758)

Aranea cinera Perry, 1811
Haustellum clavatum Schumacher, 1817
Murex brandariformis Locard, 1886
Murex brandaris Linnaeus, 1758
Murex brandaris brandellus Monterosato in Settepassi, 1970
Murex brandaris brevispinus Settepassi, 1970
Murex brandaris commixtus Settepassi, 1970
Murex brandaris insculptus Settepassi, 1970
Murex brandaris longiaculeatus Settepassi, 1970
Murex brandaris ponderosus Settepassi, 1970
Murex brandaris spinosus Settepassi, 1970
Murex brandaris subcornutus Settepassi, 1970
Murex brandaris var. aculeatus Philippi, 1836
Murex brandaris var. canaliaspinosus Serradell, 1912
Murex brandaris var. compacta Pallary, 1912
Murex brandaris var. conica Serradell, 1912
Murex brandaris var. delgadoi Serradell, 1912
Murex brandaris var. devians Dautzenberg, 1904
Murex brandaris var. diplacantha Dautzenberg, 1904
Murex brandaris var. longispina Coen, 1914
Murex brandaris var. monospinosus Serradell, 1912
Murex brandaris var. multicostatus Serradell, 1912
Murex brandaris var. nivea Bucquoy, Dautzenberg & Dollfus, 1882
Murex brandaris var. novemcostatus Serradell, 1912
Murex brandaris var. quadrispinosa Dautzenberg, 1904
Murex brandaris var. robusta Dautzenberg, 1904
Murex brandaris var. spinotuberculatus Serradell, 1912
Murex brandaris var. spirocaudata Coen, 1934
Murex brandaris var. ternispinosa Coen, 1914
Murex brandaris var. torta Dautzenberg, 1904
Murex brandaris var. trifariaspinosa Frauenfeld, 1869
Murex brandaris var. trispinosa Bucquoy, Dautzenberg & Dollfus, 1882
Murex brandaris var. tuberculata Hidalgo, 1890
Murex brandaris var. tudiculoides Coen, 1934
Murex brandaris varicosus Settepassi, 1970
Murex clavaherculis Roding, 1798
Murex coronatus Risso, 1826
Murex trispinosus Locard, 1886
Murex tuberculatus Roding, 1798
Purpura fuliginosa Röding, 1798

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.[1]

An illustration of the species from Martin Lister's 17th century shell book.[2]


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.

A shell of Bolinus brandaris: this particular shell has a broken lip because it was between growth stages when it died, and the edge of the aperture is easily damaged during that time.

Shell description[edit]

The shell is usually golden brown with a very long siphonal canal and a rounded body whorl with a low spire. There is a row of spines that corresponds to the end of each growth stage.

The size of the adult shell is about 60 to 90 mm.

Human use[edit]

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 the mucus of their hypobranchial glands.

It is a cannibalistic species; evidence suggests that intensive breeding by the ancient, Minoans resulted in pierced shells, perhaps by other snails, due to the population density in breeding tanks.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b 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 on 31 August 2010.
  2. ^ Lister M. (1685-1692). Historia Conchyliorum.

Further reading[edit]

  • 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.