The Miraculous Pedipes
A treat to those looking for microshells, the Miraculous Pedipes, Pedipes mirabilis (Megerle von Mühlfeld, 1816), is another close relative of the local Coffee Melampus (and of other local representatives of the family Ellobiidae recently covered in this column). The Miraculous Pedipes is a small species, never reaching beyond 5 mm in size (about 1/5 inch). Examination under a magnifying glass reveals a globose, light-brown or ochre-colored shell, with a delicate sculpture of spiral lines. The aperture (shell opening), by contrast, is white, and bears several expansions (“teeth”) that together act as a defensive apparatus, making it more difficult for predators to reach the snail after it withdraws into the shell. Miraculous Pedipes live in back-bay areas, but its shells may be carried onto the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva.
The Miraculous Pedipes, Pedipes mirabilis, from Sanibel Island. Photos by José H. Leal.