Bolinus brandaris

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Bolinus brandaris
Temporal range: Pliocene - Recent
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)

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]

This species is known in the fossil record from the Pliocene (age range: from 3.6 to 2.588 million years ago.). Fossil shells of this species have been found in Cyprus, Spain and Italy. [2]


  • 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


Shell description[edit]

The size of the adult shell of Bolinus brandaris can reach about 60 to 90 mm. 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.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

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.

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. ^ Fossilworks
  3. ^ 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.

External links[edit]