Epitonium scalare

Epitonium scalare, common name the precious wentletrap, is a predatory or ectoparasitic species of marine gastropod with an operculum, in the family Epitoniidae, the wentletraps.[1]

Epitonium scalare
Epitonium scalare shell.jpg
A shell of Epitonium scalare
Scientific classification
clade Caenogastropoda

clade Hypsogastropoda

informal group Ptenoglossa
E. scalare
Binomial name
Epitonium scalare
  • Epitonium breve Röding, 1798
  • Epitonium gradatum Grabau & King, 1929
  • Epitonium laevis Grabau & King, 1929
  • Epitonium lineatum Röding, 1798
  • Epitonium medium Röding, 1798
  • Epitonium minor Grabau & King, 1929
  • Epitonium multivariciferum E. A. Smith, 1911
  • Epitonium principale Röding, 1798
  • Epitonium pygmaeum Grabau & King, 1929
  • Epitonium subtile Grabau & King, 1929
  • Scala pretiosa (Lamarck, 1816)
  • Scala scalaris (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Scalaria conica Lamarck, 1822
  • Scalaria pretiosa Lamarck, 1816
  • Scalaria scalaris (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Turbo scalaris Linnaeus, 1758

In the 17th and 18th century this was once considered to be a very rare shell and specimens changed hands for large sums of money. Johan de la Faille and Cosimo III de' Medici owned a wentletrap. Its habitat is subtidal in sand.


This species is distributed in the Red Sea, in the Indian Ocean along Madagascar and South Africa, in the South West Pacific Ocean and along Fiji Islands and Japan.

Shell descriptionEdit

Adult shells of this species attain a length of between 25 mm to 72 mm.[2]

Many Epitonium species have shells that are very attractive and quite interesting in their structure. However this species is particularly striking, partly because it is very large compared with the great majority of other species within the genus, but also because the whorls themselves do not touch and so the shell is held together only by the well-developed ribs or costae.

The shell of Epitonium scalare has sculpture consisting of raised ribs that are known as costae. Costae are a very common feature in shells of many Epitonium species.


  1. ^ a b Rosenberg, G. (2010). Epitonium scalare (Linnaeus, 1758). In: Bouchet, P.; Gofas, S.; Rosenberg, G. (2010) World Marine Mollusca database. Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=207942 on 2010-11-22
  2. ^ "Epitonium scalare (Linnaeus, 1758) The Precious Wentletrap". Jacksonville Shell Club, accessed 12 March 2010.

Further readingEdit

Dance, S. Peter, 1969, Rare Shells, University of California Press.128 p, 24 color plates, ISBN 9780571082179

External linksEdit