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Buccinum undatum.jpg
A live individual of Buccinum undatum being held above the substrate
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
(unranked): clade Caenogastropoda

clade Hypsogastropoda
clade Neogastropoda

Superfamily: Buccinoidea
Family: Buccinidae
Subfamily: Buccininae
Tribe: Buccinini
Genus: Buccinum
Linnaeus, 1758[1]
Type species
Buccinum undatum
Linnaeus, 1758

See text

  • Mada Jeffreys, 1867 (Invalid: junior homonym of Mada Mulsant, 1850; Mala and Madiella are replacement names)
  • Madiella Wenz, 1943 (Replacement name for Mada Jeffreys, 1867)
  • Mala Cossmann, 1901 (Replacement name for Mada Jeffreys, 1867, but itself a junior homonym of Mala Distant, 1854)
  • Nassa (Buccinum) Linnaeus, 1758
  • Reticubuccinum Ito & Habe, 1980
  • Tritonellium Valenciennes, 1858 (unnecessary replacement name for Tritonium O. F. Müller, 1776, by Valenciennes considered a homonym of Tritonia Cuvier)
  • Tritonium O. F. Müller, 1776
  • Tritonium (Buccinum) Linnaeus, 1758

Buccinum is a genus of medium-sized sea snails, marine gastropod molluscs in the family Buccinidae, the true whelks.[2]

Snails in this genus are commonly called whelks, a name shared with several related and unrelated species. The common whelk Buccinum undatum is the most common representative of the genus in the northern Atlantic Ocean.


The shell is ovate or ovate-conical and elongated. The spire is moderate and pointed. The aperture is oval or oblong with a deep notch anteriorly and without a siphonal canal. The columella is plain, not flattened, swollen above, and often covered with a wide and flattened calcareous callosity, of more diaphanous substance. There sometimes exists a fold at the base of the columella. The outer lip is plain, quite thin, sometimes recurved, and forming a margin on the exterior. The thin, horny operculum is ovate and concentrically striate.

The soft body is elongated and spiral. The foot almost always considerable and subelliptical. It is shielded or two-lobed before, emarginated behind, bearing an operculum. The mantle is simple and forms a thin-edged flap over the branchial cavity. It is provided with a branchial siphon, projecting, thick, very long and dorsal, issuing from the emargination at the base of the shell. The head is rather thick, furnished with two conical, depressed tentacles supporting the eyes upon the outer side, (sometimes the eyes do not exist, but this case is extremely rare) . The mouth is provided with a retractile trunk, armed with minute teeth. The radula acts as a rasp. The sexes are separate. The love dart of the male is considerable, without an exterior furrow at its base.[3]

All animals are carnivores and scavengers, feeding on dead or damaged marine animals. They are provided with a cylindrical trunk, susceptible of being much elongated or of being concealed entirely within the body. This trunk is armed at its extremity with beaks, which enable the animal to pierce the shell of other molluscs and crustaceans, upon which it preys.[4]

The sexes are separate. The shells of the males are generally smaller, and less inflated than those of the females. The males are provided with a very large love dart, i.e. an exciting appendage, which, in a state of repose, is situated under the right edge of the mantle.

The eggs are generally united together. They are sometimes driven and transported by the waves to distances far removed from the places where they had been deposited; whence the same species of Buccinum are often found in very different climates.[3]


The whelks are met with in all seas, especially upon rocks, where they occur in large numbers. The warmest climates furnish the species most brilliant in coloring. Some species serve for food to the inhabitants of many countries, particularly upon the shores of the English Channel and the North Sea.[3]


Species in the genus Buccinum include:[5]

Species brought into synonymy[edit]

This is a long list because, originally, all species resembling a Buccinum were categorized in this genus. Most of them have become synonyms in the course of time.


  1. ^ Linnaeus (1758). Systema Naturae, ed. 10, 734; 1767, ed. 12, 1196.
  2. ^ Gofas, S.; Bouchet, P. (2014). Buccinum Linnaeus, 1758. Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=137701 on 2015-02-18
  3. ^ a b c "Kiener (1840). General species and iconography of recent shells : comprising the Massena Museum, the collection of Lamarck, the collection of the Museum of Natural History, and the recent discoveries of travellers; Boston :W.D. Ticknor,1837" (PDF). Archive.org. Retrieved 22 January 2017. 
  4. ^ Macgillivray, William, History of the molluscous animals of Scotland, London, 1844
  5. ^ "Worldwide Malacological Catalog: Buccinidae". wwmcat.it. Retrieved 22 January 2017. 
  6. ^ Hardy, Eddie. "Buccinum solenum". Gastropods.com. Retrieved 22 January 2017. 
  7. ^ Hardy, Eddie. "Buccinum tsubai". Gastropods.com. Retrieved 22 January 2017. 

External links[edit]