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Temporal range: late Triassic or early Jurassic – Recent[1]
A live individual of Naticarius hebraeus (Martyn, 1786), viewed from the front
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Subclass: Caenogastropoda
Order: Littorinimorpha
Superfamily: Naticoidea
Family: Naticidae
Guilding, 1834
Type genus
Dall, 1918

See text

260–270 Recent species

Naticidae, common name moon snails or necklace shells, is a family of medium to large-sized predatory sea snails, marine gastropod molluscs in the clade Littorinimorpha. The shells of the species in this family are mostly globular in shape.

Naticidae is the only family in the superfamily Naticoidea.

It has been estimated that worldwide there are about 260–270 recent species of naticid snails.[1] This group is assumed to have originated in the late Triassic or in the early Jurassic.[1] Members of this family can be recognized by the shape of their shells, distinct appearance, or by their predatory behavior.[1]


Naticids are widely distributed and occur worldwide and are considered to be a delicate part the web of nature amongst many others. The greatest diversity of both species and genera is found in tropical regions. Even so, naticid snails are also plentiful in temperate, Arctic and Antarctic waters.[1]


Moon snails live on sandy substrates, at a great variety of depths depending on the species (from the intertidal zone to thousands of meters in depth).[1] They are often seen ploughing along in the sand, searching for bivalvic and other prey, resulting in countersunk bore-holes.

Divaricella quadrisulcata showing Naticid predation holes

Life habits[edit]

50-second video of snails (most likely Natica chemnitzi and Cerithium muscarum) feeding on the sea floor in the Gulf of California, Puerto Peñasco, Mexico.
Naticid boring in Stewartia from the Calvert Formation, Zone 10, Calvert Co., MD (Miocene).
A moon snail (Naticarius orientalis) on the prowl at night. Found on the north coast of East Timor.
Notocochlis gualteriana
A fossil shell of Naticarius millepunctatus from the Nicosia Formation, Pliocene, Cyprus

Naticids are predatory, feeding mostly on bivalves. They will also attack almost any other shelled mollusk they encounter in the sand, such as scaphopods and other gastropods, including other moon snails.[1] Additionally, Conuber sordidum was shown to prey on the soldier crab Mictyris longicarpus (Crustacea) by drilling predation.[2][3] To catch soldier crabs, C. sordidum uses the same behaviour as when hunting shelled molluscan prey.[3]

The moon snail envelops the prey and then bores a hole through the shell using its radula and an acid secretion. Once the shell is bored open, the proboscis is used to consume the flesh of the prey. The hole in the shell, which has a "countersunk" appearance with chamfered edges, and which varies in size according to the species, is a characteristic diagnostic sign of moon snail predation.

In the breeding season, the female moon snail lays a rather stiff egg mass which includes sand and mucus. These objects wash up on sandy beaches fairly often, and are known by the common name "sand collars" because of their resemblance to an old-fashioned removable shirt collar or false-collar.

Human Interaction[edit]

In Korean cuisine, moon snails are called golbaengi (골뱅이) and eaten as golbaengi-muchim (moon snail salad).[4]

Moon snail shells are attractive and relatively large, and often popular in jewellery and ornamentation.


Traditional classification[edit]

Some authors have suggested a distinct separation of the Naticidae into four subfamilies: Ampullospirinae, Naticinae, Polinicinae and Sininae.[5] This arrangement is mainly based on morphological data, such as details of the operculum including the material (calcareous in the Naticinae, corneous in the Polinicinae and Sininae) and size, and also the morphology of the shell.[6][7][8]

2005 taxonomy[edit]

The following four subfamilies were recognized in the taxonomy of Bouchet & Rocroi (2005):[9]

  • Naticinae Guilding, 1834 - synonyms: Neveritinae Gray, 1857; Choristidae Verrill, 1882; Euspiridae Cossmann, 1907; Mammillinae Iredale & McMichael, 1962; Eunaticinini Oyama, 1469
  • Sininae Woodring, 1928 - synonyms: Sigaretidae Gary, 1827; Cryptostomidae Gray, 1827
  • Globisininae Powell, 1933
  • Polinicinae Gray, 1847


Genera in the family Naticidae include:

Unassigned to a subfamily:

subfamily Naticinae

subfamily Globisininae

subfamily Polinicinae Gray, 1847

subfamily Sininae

subfamily ?


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Huelsken, T.; Marek, C; Schreiber, S; Schmidt, I; Hollmann, M. (2008). "The Naticidae (Mollusca: Gastropoda) of Giglio Island (Tuscany, Italy): Shell characters, live animals, and a molecular analysis of egg masses" (PDF). Zootaxa. 1770. Magnolia Press: 1–40. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.1770.1.1. ISSN 1175-5334. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  2. ^ Ann M. Cameron (1966). "Some aspects of the behaviour of the soldier crab, Mictyris longicarpus". Pacific Science. 20 (2): 224–234. hdl:10125/7754.
  3. ^ a b Huelsken, T. (2011) First evidence of drilling predation by Conuber sordidus (Swainson, 1821) (Gastropoda: Naticidae) on soldier crabs (Crustacea: Mictyridae). Molluscan Research, 31(2), 125-131. [1]
  4. ^ National Institute of Korean Language (30 July 2014). "주요 한식명(200개) 로마자 표기 및 번역(영, 중, 일) 표준안" (PDF) (in Korean).
  5. ^ Kabat A.R. 1991. The classification of the Naticidae (Mollusca: Gastropoda): Review and analysis of the supraspecific taxa. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., 152, 417-449.
  6. ^ Cernohorsky W.O. 1971. The family Naticidae (Mollusca: Gastropoda) in the Fiji Islands. Auckland Inst. Mus., 8, 169-208.
  7. ^ a b Marincovich L.N. 1977. Cenozoic Naticidae (Mollusca: Gastropoda) of the Northeastern Pacific. Bulletins of American Paleontology, 70, 169-212.
  8. ^ Bandel K. 1999. On the origin of the carnivorous gastropod group Naticoidea (Mollusca) in the Cretaceous with description of some convergent but unrelated groups. Greifswalder Geowissenschaftliche Beiträge, 6, 134-175.
  9. ^ Bouchet, Philippe; Rocroi, Jean-Pierre; Frýda, Jiri; Hausdorf, Bernard; Ponder, Winston; Valdés, Ángel & Warén, Anders (2005). "Classification and nomenclator of gastropod families". Malacologia. 47 (1–2). Hackenheim, Germany: ConchBooks: 1–397. ISBN 3-925919-72-4. ISSN 0076-2997.
  10. ^ Huelsken, T., Wägele, H., Peters, B., Mather, A., Hollmann, M. (2011) Molecular analysis of adults and egg masses reveals two independent lineages within the infaunal gastropod Naticarius onca (Röding, 1798) (Caenogastropoda: Naticidae). Molluscan Research, 31(3), 141-151. PDF
  11. ^ Majima, R. 1989. Cenozoic fossil Naticidae (Mollusca: Gastropoda) in Japan. Bulletins of American Paleontology, 96 (331), 1-159.
  12. ^ Huelsken T. et al. 2006. Neverita delessertiana (Recluz in Chenu, 1843): a naticid species (Gastropoda: Caenogastropoda) distinct from Neverita duplicata (Say, 1822) based on molecular data, morphological characters, and geographical distribution. Zootaxa, 1257:1-25.
  13. ^ Huelsken, T., Tapken, D., Dahlmann, T., Wägele, H., Riginos, C., Hollmann, M. (2012). Systematics and phylogenetic species delimitation within Polinices s.l. (Caenogastropoda: Naticidae) based on molecular data and shell morphology. Organisms Diversity & Evolution. doi:10.1007/s13127-012-0111-5.
  14. ^ Siemers C. T. & King N. R. (1974). "Macroinvertebrate paleoecology of a transgressive marine sandstone, Cliff House Sandstone (Upper Cretaceous), Chaco Canyon, northwestern New Mexico" PDF.

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