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A shell of a Turritella species
Scientific classification

Lovén, 1847
21 extant genera

125 extant species

  • Archimediellidae Starobogatov, 1982
  • Zariinae Gray, 1850

Turritellidae, common name the "tower shells" or "tower snails", is a taxonomic family of small to medium-sized sea snails, marine gastropod molluscs in the clade Sorbeoconcha.

These snails are filter feeders. This method of feeding is somewhat unusual among gastropod mollusks, but is very common in bivalves.

Shell description[edit]

The shells of turritellid species have whorls that are more convex and an aperture which is more circular than it is in the auger shells which are similarly high-spired. The columella is curved and the thin operculum is horny.

Anatomy of the soft parts[edit]

These snails burrow into mud or sand. The foot is relatively small.

A medium-sized sea snail in a genus India
A fossil shell of Turritella communis from a deep borehole in the Netherlands
Turritella terebra shell on display.


The following five subfamilies were recognized in the taxonomy of Bouchet & Rocroi (2005):

  • Turritellinae Lovén, 1847 - synonyms: Zariinae Gray, 1850; Zeacolpini Marwick, 1971; Archimediellidae Starobogatov, 1982; Tachyrhynchinae Golikov, 1986
  • Orectospirinae Habe, 1955
  • Pareorinae Finlay & Marwick, 1937
  • Protominae Marwick, 1957
  • Vermiculariinae Dall, 1913 - synonym: Pseudomesaliidae mahmoud, 1955 (inv.)


Genera within the family Turritellidae include:

  • Protoma Baird, 1870 -( synonym: Protomella Thiele, 1929)

family ?

Palaeontological locations[edit]

Turritella from the Pleistocene of Sicily.
  • The Turritellenplatte of Ermingen ("Erminger Turritellenplatte" near Ulm, Germany) is situated in the northern part of the North Alpine Foreland Basin (NAFB) and is famous for its abundance of Turritella turris gastropod shells within sedimentary deposits. The fauna of this gastropod-rich sandstone reflects mainly near-coastal and shallow marine conditions.[10] Petrographical and palaeontological data allow a correlation of Turritellenplatte of Ermingen with Burdigalian (Lower Miocene). Sr-isotope composition of shark teeth suggests an age of about 18,5 Ma for the Turritellenplatte of Ermingen.[11]


  1. ^ Strong E. E., Colgan D. J., Healy J. M., Lydeard C., Ponder W. F. & Glaubrecht M. (2011). "Phylogeny of the gastropod superfamily Cerithioidea using morphology and molecules". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 162(1): 43-89. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2010.00670.x.
  2. ^ DeVries T. J. (2007). "Cenozoic Turritellidae (Gastropoda) from southern Peru". Journal of Paleontology 81(2): 331-351. doi:10.1666/0022-3360(2007)81[331:CTGFSP]2.0.CO;2.
  3. ^ Harzhauser M. (2007). "Oligocene and Aquitanian gastropod faunas from the Sultanate of Oman and their biogeographic implications for the western Indo-Pacific". Palaeontographica Abteilung A 280: 75-121. PDF.
  4. ^ Vos, C.; Bouchet, P. (2014). Armatus Golikov, 1986. In: MolluscaBase (2017). Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at http://marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=575786 on 2017-11-17
  5. ^ Marshall, B. (2017). Colposigma Finlay & Marwick, 1937 †. In: MolluscaBase (2017). Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=828132 on 2017-11-17
  6. ^ Vos, C.; Bouchet, P.; Gofas, S. (2013). Mesalia Gray, 1847. In: MolluscaBase (2017). Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=138613 on 2017-11-17
  7. ^ Bouchet, P. (2011). Neohaustator Ida, 1952. In: MolluscaBase (2017). Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=575807 on 2017-11-17
  8. ^ Halder, K., & Sinha, P. (2014). "Some Eocene Cerithioids (Gastropoda, Mollusca) from Kutch, Western India, and Their Bearing on Palaeobiogeography of the Indian Subcontinent". Paleontology Journal, 2014, Article ID 673469, doi:10.1155/2014/673469.
  9. ^ Marshall, B. (2017). Tropicolpus. In: MolluscaBase (2017). Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=828134 on 2017-11-17
  10. ^ Baier J. (2008). "Über die Tertiärbildungen im Ulmer Raum". Documenta Naturae 168: 1-32. München. ISBN 978-3-86544-168-3.
  11. ^ Baier J. (2008). "Ein Beitrag zur Erminger Turritellenplatte (Mittlere Schwäbische Alb, SW-Deutschland)". Jahresbericht Mitt. oberrhein. geol. Ver., N.F. 90: 9-17. Stuttgart, ISSN 0078-2947.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]