Mollusc Mysteries

Data: This shell came from Spain, the meditteranean sea.

It was found in Marbella, Costa del Sol-Spain. I have only found 1 in the 7 years I have lived here.

It is 9cm long

Send Ideas to: Nathalie


Identified: Mitra Zonata


  • This is Mitra zonata Marryat, 1818, a rather uncommon deep water species ranging from the Canary Islands to Morocco, and the western Mediterranean.

  • See Eddy Hardie's site at:

  • This is a rather beachworn Mitra zonata Marrat, 1817 ... Paul M.

  • Frederick Marryat (July 10, 1792 – August 9, 1848), a Londoner, had a distinguished career in the Royal Navy, in which he enlisted at age 14. He was involved in, and later led, numerous campaigns including action against the US in the War of 1812. During the post-war period he devoted time to scientific studies and was admitted to the Royal Society in 1817, the year he named Mitra zonata. In 1818 he named Cyclostrema and its type species C. cancellatum. He resigned his commission in 1830 having achieved the rank of Captain while in his early thirties and seeing action in places as remote as St. Helena and Malaysia. His second career was as a novelist, publishing 27 titles, achieving a modicum of critical acclaim, and hob-nobbing with the likes of Charles Dickens. It seems he never re-immersed himself in conchology. There are biographies at <> and <>.

  • According to Dance (1986) Frederick Price Marrat was born in 1820. His sentinel contributions to malacology include the curation of the fellow Liverpudlian John Dennison (of Lovell Reeve's Morum and Vexillum dennisoni fame)** and authoring the Oliva monograph in Thesaurus Conchyliorum in 1871. He was also a highly-regarded paleobotanist. There is a good biobibliography, etc. by Nora McMillan (1985).

    ** These two patronymics place John Dennison with Sir David William Barclay (the muricid Naquetia barclayi and cowrie Contradusta barclayi both also named by Reeve) as the only conchologists celebrated with two patronymics among the 50 species selected by Peter Dance (1969) as the world's rarest shells. Another of the august 50 is Cypraea nivosa Broderip, 1837, the type of which was brought back by none other than Frederick Marryat from his Asian campaign.

    Harry G.

    Dance, S. P., 1969. Rare shells. University of California, Berkeley. pp. 1-128 + 45 pls. (only pl. I paginated).
    Dance, S. P., 1986. A history of shell collecting. E. J. Brill - Dr. W. Backhuys, Leiden, 1986, pp. 1-265 + xv + 32 pls. + frontispiece.
    McMillan, N., 1985. Frederick Price Marrat, 'conchologist, etc.': with a list of his type and figured specimens in Merseyside County Museums, and a bibliography of his publications. Merseyside County Museums, Liverpool. pp. 1-33 ISBN 0906367182.

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