Spotted Unicorn

Acanthinucella punctulata

The predatory sea snail is found in intertidal and sublittoral zones in Southern California to Baja California (1).  The shell morphology is described as a spiral shape with a short canal containing an open tooth at the end of the groove (2). Their habitat consists of coarse sand with eelgrass, corraline algae, and naturally occurring rocks (3). This species belongs in the diverse Ocenebrinae subfamily which are classified by the predatory gastropod’s shell and radula (tongue) morphology (2). Spotted Unicorn’s play an ecological role in intertidal communities by preying on barnacles and other hinged mollusk’s (bivalves) (4).

(1) Ainis, A. F., Vellanoweth, R. L., Lapena, Q. G., & Thornber, C. S. (2014). Using non-dietary gastropods in coastal shell middens to infer kelp and seagrass harvesting and paleoenvironmental conditions. Journal of Archaeological Science, 49, 343-360.

(2) Barco, A., Herbert, G., Houart, R., Fassio, G., & Oliverio, M. (2017). A molecular phylogenetic framework for the subfamily Ocenebrinae (Gastropoda, Muricidae). Zoologica Scripta, 46(3), 322-335.

(3) Ainis, A. F., Vellanoweth, R. L., Lapeña, Q. G., & Thornber, C. S. (2014). Using non-dietary gastropods in coastal shell middens to infer kelp and seagrass harvesting and paleoenvironmental conditions. Journal of Archaeological Science, 49, 343-360.

(Photograph) Jerry Kirkhart. Parasitic snail. Original photo has been cropped