The Antillean Tusk Shell
Tusk shells belong in the molluscan class Scaphopoda, and are so named because they resemble small elephant tusks. The Antillean Tusk Shell, Antalis antillaris (d’Orbigny, 1853) is one of several local members of the family Dentaliidae. Its shell reaches about a half-inch in length, and is ornamented by longitudinal ridges, which are separated by grooves containing translucent “windows” of thinner shell material of unknown function. The local tusk shells are being studied by Shell Museum’s marine biologist Rebecca Mensch, who identified this shell, collected by Susan Hewitt on Turner Beach, Blind Pass in December 2016. Susan’s find represents a new species occurrence on Sanibel/Captiva!
The Antillean Tusk Shell, Antalis antillaris, from Blind Pass. Photos by José H. Leal.