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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Venus Comb Murex pecten

The tropical carnivorous snail known as the Venus comb has a unique and spectacular shell. There are rows of long, thin spines along its longitudinal ridges, which continue onto the narrow, rodlike, and very elongated siphon canal. The exact function of these spines is unknown, but they are thought to be either for protection or to prevent the snail from sinking into the soft substrate on which it lives. Its body is tall and columnar so that it can lift its cumbersome shell above the ground to move in search of food.

Hiding from view

There are times when the Venus comb buries itself just below the surface of the sea floor, displacing the sand with movements of its muscular foot. However, it leaves the opening of its tubular inhalant siphon above the sand’s surface so that it can draw water into its mantle cavity to obtain oxygen and to “taste” the water for the presence of prey.

Venus Combzoom image
  • Class Gastropoda
  • Length Up to 3 in (8 cm)
  • Habitat Tropical warm waters to 650 ft (200 m)
  • Distribution Eastern Indian Ocean and western Pacific
Venus Comb habitat mapzoom image