Saturday, October 06, 2012

Melongenas (Phylum Mollusca: Family Melongenidae) of Singapore

Marine snails of the family Melongenidae, commonly called melongenas, are carnivorous snails that typically have a drop-shaped or oval operculum and strong foot. Some species has been observed to use its operculum as an anchor to drag and move around. Most species feed on clams and oysters, though some are observed to feed on barnacles as well. They generally feed by inserting the proboscis into the gaps between the shells of barnacles and clams.

Spiral Melongena (Pugilina cochlidium)
Many species are very well-camouflaged, trapping sediment with a layer of fine hair on the shell. The egg capsules are arranged like little dominoes, either in an arc or a crooked line.

I have personally seen two melongena species in Singapore so far (thanks to Siong Kiat who gave tips on how to identify them!). You may want to take a look at my diagram on the parts of a snail's shell if you are not familiar with the names of the parts, so as to better understand the terms used below.

Ternate Melongena (Hemifusus ternatanus)
The Ternate Melongena (Hemifusus ternatanus) has a long siphon canal. Ternate is an island in the Moluccas of eastern Indonesia. Note the drop-shaped operculum and black foot.

Ternate Melongena (Hemifusus ternatanus)
Live Ternate Melongenas are seldom seen, but dead shells occupied by hermit crabs are occasionally seen on our shores. This species is found on sandy substrates, growing to about 10cm long.

Spiral Melongena (Pugilina cochlidium)
The Spiral Melongena (Pugilina cochlidium) is very commonly seen on the muddy intertidal shores in Singapore, feeding mainly on barnacles and clams. While most can be found half hidden in the mud, some can be found on rocks as well, growing up to more than 10cm long. Like the previous species, it has a drop-shaped operculum and black foot as well.

Spiral Melongena (Pugilina cochlidium)
The siphon canal of the Spiral Melongena is much shorter than that of the previous species. This slightly cleaner specimen reveals the brownish shell colour. This snail is collected for food in the region.

  • Abbott, R. T., 1991. Seashells of Southeast Asia. Graham Brash, Singapore. 145 pp.
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