back to thumbnails

Shell X-Rays

Image 4 of 16
< Prev Next >
Murex shell Murex Alabaster. .This mollusc is an active predator. They are highly carnivorous and prey on other molluscs, bivalves, shrimps, sponges as well as sea creatures of similar size. The animal has some sort of a hardened tongue called radula adapted for tearing flesh and capable of drilling through shells. They have an accessory boring organ secreting a calcium chelating compound that softens a shell during the drilling process. A neurotoxic mucus secretion is the paralytic agent muricids use for killing...From the family Muricidae, there are 700 known species from these beautiful gastropods, the largest among the marine snails. Some related species (Murex trunculus and Murex brandaris) produce purple pigment, once used to make dye by the ancient Mediterranean for religious and royal robes. The dye extracted from these shellfish was extremely valuable hence the prestige associated with purple clothing. According to the Italian colour and textile expert Renata Pompas "it was necessary to have 12,000 murex or molluscs for 1.4 grams of pigment, scarcely enough for dying a single dress the size of the Roman toga."