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An Illustrated Work for Amateur Collectors
of New Zealand Marine Shells


Directions for Collecting and Cleaning them.


E. G. B. MOSS,


Photographs by C. SPENCER, Auckland.



[Transcriber's Note: Words surrounded by tildes, like ~this~ signifies
words in bold.]



Preface 3

Chapter I. - Shells and their Inmates 5

Chapter II. - Collecting and Cleaning Shells 10

Chapter III. - Description of Plates 14



Acmæa fragilis, 43

Acmæa octoradiata, 43

Acmæa pileopsis, 43

Amphibola crenata, 26

Anatina angasi, 32

Anaitis yatei, 37

Ancilla australis, 17

Ancilla pyramidalis, 17

Anomia walteri, 46

Apollo argus, 22

Apollo australasia, 22

Arca decussata, 40

Argonauta nodosa, 14

Astralium heliotropium, 27

Astralium sulcatum, 27

Atactodea subtriangulata, 36

Bankivia varians, 29

Barbatia decussata, 40

Barnea similis, 32

Buccinulus kirki, 30

Bulla quoyi, 32

Calliostoma pellucidum, 24

Calliostoma punctulatum, 24

Calliostoma selectum, 24

Calliostoma tigris, 23

Calyptræa maculata, 42

Cantharidus fasciatus, 29

Cantharidus iris, 28

Cantharidus purpuratus, 28

Cantharidus tenebrosus, 28

Cardita australis, 39

Cardita aviculina, 38

Cassis, 23

Cerithidea, 30

Chione costata, 36

Chione crassa, 39

Chione oblonga, 36

Chione stutchburyi, 36

Chione yatei, 27

Cochlodesma angasi, 32

Cominella huttoni, 21

Cominella lurida, 21

Cominella maculata, 21

Cominella nassoides, 22

Cominella testudinea, 21

Cominella virgata, 22

Cookia sulcata, 27

Corbula zelandica, 33

Crenella impacta, 40

Crepidula aculeata, 42

Crepidula monoxyla, 42

Crepidula unguiformis, 42

Cylichna striata, 31

Daphnella lymneiformis, 29

Dentalium nanum, 43

Divaricella cumingi, 39

Dolium variegatum, 18

Dosinea australis, 40

Dosinea lambata, 40

Dosinea subrosea, 40

Drillia zelandica, 29

Emarginula striatula, 42

Ethalia zelandica, 25

Euthria flavescens, 20

Euthria lineata, 20

Euthria vittata, 20

Galerus zelandicus, 42

Glycymeris laticostata, 37

Glycymeris striatularis, 37

Haliotis iris, 37

Haliotis rugoso-plicata, 37

Haliotis virginea, 37

Haminea zelandiæ, 32

Hemimactra notata, 34

Hiatula nitida, 34

Hipponyx australis, 42

Janthina exigua, 28

Janthina fragilis, 28

Janthina globosa, 28

Kalydon, 30

Lima bullata, 41

Lima zelandica, 41

Lithodomus truncatus, 38

Lithophago truncata, 38

Litorina cincta, 29

Litorina mauritiana, 29

Lotorium cornutum, 23

Lotorium olearium, 22

Lotorium rubicundum, 19

Lotorium spengleri, 22

Lucina dentata, 39

Mactra æquilatera, 33

Mactra discors, 33

Magellania lenticularis, 38

Marinula filholi, 31

Mesodesma novæ zelandiæ, 36

Mesodesma ventricosa, 35

Mitra melaniana, 18

Modiola australis, 46

Modiolaria impacta, 40

Monodonta aethiops, 26

Monodonta lugubris, 26

Monodonta nigerrima, 26

Monodonta subrostrata, 26

Murex eos, 16

Murex octogonus, 16

Murex ramosus, 16

Murex zelandicus, 15

Myodora boltoni, 33

Myodora striata, 33

Mytilicardia excavata, 38

Mytilus edulis, 45

Mytilus latus, 45

Mytilus magellanicus, 46

Natica zelandica, 25

Nerita nigra, 25

Ophicardelus costellaris, 31

Ostrea angasi, 46

Ostrea glomerata, 46

Panopea zelandica, 32

Paphia, 35

Parmophorus, 41

Patella radians, 43

Patella stellifera, 43

Pecten convexus, 44

Pecten medius, 44

Pecten zelandiæ, 45

Pectunculus, 37

Pholadidea tridens, 32

Pinna zelandica, 45

Pisania, 20

Placunanomia zelandica, 46

Pleurotoma, 30

Polytropa, 17

Potamides bicarinatus, 30

Potamides sub-carinatus, 30

Psammobia lineolata, 34

Psammobia stangeri, 34

Purpura haustrum, 17

Purpura scobina, 17

Purpura succincta, 17

Ranella, 22

Resania lanceolata, 34

Rhynchonella nigricans, 38

Rotella, 25

Saxicava arctica, 33

Scalaria tenella, 30

Scalaria zelebori, 30

Scaphella gracilis, 18

Scaphella pacifica, 18

Scutum ambiguum, 41

Semi-cassis labiata, 23

Semi-cassis pyrum, 23

Siliquaria australis, 30

Siphonalia dilatata, 19

Siphonalia mandarina, 19

Siphonalia nodosa, 19

Siphonaria australis, 41

Siphonaria obliquata, 41

Solenomya parkinsoni, 40

Solenotellina nitida, 34

Solenotellina spenceri, 34

Solidula alba, 30

Spirula peroni, 15

Standella elongata, 34

Standella ovata, 33

Struthiolaria papulosa, 19

Struthiolaria vermis, 20

Sub-emarginula intermedia, 41

Surcula cheesemani, 30

Surcula novæ zelandiæ, 29

Tapes intermedia, 39

Taron dubius, 29

Tellina alba, 35

Tellina disculus, 35

Tellina glabrella, 35

Tellina strangei, 35

Tenagodes weldii, 30

Terebra tristis, 30

Terebratella rubicunda, 38

Terebratella sanguinea, 38

Tralia australis, 31

Tricotropis inornata, 31

Triton, 19

Trivia australis, 31

Trochus chathamensis, 24

Trochus tiaratus, 24

Trochus viridis, 24

Trophon ambiguus, 16

Trophon cheesemani, 17

Trophon duodecimus, 30

Trophon plebeius, 31

Trophon stangeri, 16

Turbo granosus, 26

Turbo helicinus, 27

Turritella rosea, 31

Turritella vittata, 31

Vanganella taylori, 34

Venericardia australis, 39

Venerupis elegans, 39

Venerupis reflexa, 39

Venus, 36 and 39

Volsella australis, 46

Volsella fluviatilis, 46

Voluta, 18

Waldheimia lenticularis, 38

Zenatia acinaces, 34

Zizyphinus, 23


Often have I heard my young friends regret the great difficulty
experienced in identifying the things of beauty found on our coast; and
some time back it occurred to me that the time had arrived when an
attempt should be made to remedy this. New Zealand is a maritime
country, most of its inhabitants living near the sea, and there are few
indeed who do not enjoy occasionally the pleasure of wandering along the
seashore, gathering shells, seaweed, echini, and the numerous other
relics of the deep. This pleasant hobby is robbed of a great deal of its
interest by a lack of knowledge as regards the names, habits, and mode
of preserving the various finds, and especially the finds of shells.
When properly preserved and carefully classified they are much more
attractive than otherwise they would be. In almost every home shells are
seen; some highly prized as ornaments, others as mementoes of pleasant
hours in foreign lands; but seldom are our really beautiful shells
represented in a collection.

In this work marine shells alone are dealt with, our numerous land and
fresh water shells being, with six or seven exceptions, small and
insignificant. Of land and fresh water shells about two hundred
varieties, and of marine shells about four hundred and fifty varieties,
have up to the present been discovered in New Zealand. For some
inscrutable reason, however, the New Zealand authorities are continually
changing the classical names of our shells. The names I have used are
taken from the late Professor F. W. Hutton's last list, published in
1904. It is really time some attempt was made to stop this foolish
proceeding. Most of the shells, since I began collecting 20 odd years
ago, have had their names changed once, many of them twice, and some
even three times. It is more than probable some of the names will be
altered while this volume is in the press. These frequent changes in the
names cause great confusion, and but for the kindly help and
encouragement given me by Mr. T. F. Cheeseman, F.L.S., of Auckland, I
should have hesitated to undertake its publication. What most ennobles
science is the willingness to give assistance to beginners shown by
really scientific men, and doubly pleasing is that help to the recipient
when given spontaneously and without stint.

This is the first attempt to publish a popular work on New Zealand
shells, and is written by an amateur for amateurs. Nearly every shell
likely to be met with by an ordinary collector (except the minute
shells) will be found in the ten plates at the end of this work. I have
endeavoured to describe the shells in simple language, as the scientific
words may puzzle some of my readers. For instance, Professor Hutton
describes a certain shell as "thick, irregular, sharp ribbed, with the
margin dentated or lobed, very inequivalve; upper valve opercular,
compressed, wrinkled, with thick concentric laminae; lower valve
cucullated, purple, white within, edged with purple or black; lateral
margins denticulated; hinge generally attenuated, produced, pointed."
When a shell is found that fully answers this description you will know
it is an Auckland rock oyster. Errors and omissions will, I trust, be
charitably dealt with, as the inevitable mistakes of a man who is
blazing a track. I have endeavoured to give the Maori names also, but,
unfortunately, in different parts of New Zealand the same name is
frequently used for different shells.

My own collection of New Zealand marine shells, made during my residence
in Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, is, I believe, the best and largest yet
made, and among the specimens I can number no less than a dozen new
shells which I had the pleasure of adding to the recognised list. Over
90 per cent. of the known species of New Zealand marine shells were
found there by my friends or myself during the 15 happy years I spent in
that delightful, though not very progressive, part of New Zealand.

My thanks are especially due to Mr. Charles Spencer, of Auckland, an
ardent conchologist, and for many years my colleague in collecting
shells, for the care taken with the photographs, and for valuable
suggestions and help.



Before the study of shellfish, or molluscs, was conducted on the
scientific principles of the present day, shells were classified as
univalves, bivalves, and multivalves. The univalves were shells in one
piece, such as the whelk; the bivalves those in two pieces, such as the
mussel or oyster; and the multivalves those in more than two pieces,
such as barnacles or chitons, barnacles, however, being no longer
classed with shells.

The highest of the five types, or natural divisions, of animals are the
Vertebrata, the Mollusca, and the Annulosa. The vertebrates usually have
vertebrae, or jointed backbones, and from this the highest division
takes its name; but the real test is the colour of the blood, which in
the vertebrates is always red.

The molluscs have soft bodies and no internal skeleton, but in lieu of
this the animal is usually protected by an external shell, harder than
the bones of vertebrates. The annulosa, like the molluscs, have soft
bodies and no internal skeletons; but the external shell is divided into
joints or segments, and is usually softer than the bones of vertebrates.

Fishes belong to the vertebrate division, oysters to the mollusc, and
crabs and starfish to the annulosa.

The remaining two of the five divisions are the Caelenterata, in which
the general cavity of the body communicates freely with that of the
digestive apparatus, and the Protozoa, which includes all animals, such
as sponges, etc., not included in the above four divisions.

The shell of an oyster takes the place of the bones of a dog; and
although it may seem strange for an animal to have its bones on the
outside of its body, it is really no more strange than for a fruit, such
as the strawberry or raspberry, to have its seeds on the outside. Lime
is the principal ingredient of all bones; and the bones of vertebrate
animals contain a large proportion of phosphate of lime, while the
shells of molluscs, or shellfish (as they are popularly called), consist
almost entirely of carbonate of lime.

When scientists began more carefully to examine the structure of
shellfish, they found that those similarly constructed had shells with
certain marked peculiarities. The days of conchology were then doomed;
and the study of the mollusc, or malacology, took its place.

Besides those necessary for digesting food, most shellfish have organs
equivalent to those of vertebrate animals, such as feet, arms, eyes,
head, heart, and tongue. Although bearing the same names, these organs
rarely have a similar shape to those of the vertebrates, being
necessarily adapted to the different mode of living. The foot of a
cockle, shaped like an animal's tongue, enables it to move slowly from
place to place, as well as to burrow in a sandy beach with the comical
jerks so well known to observers. The tongues are beautifully designed
for their work. The long, narrow tongue of the vegetarian mollusc works
like a scythe, and mows down the delicate marine grasses on which the
animal feeds. The powerful tongues of those that prefer an animal diet
are able to bore through the strongest shells; and woe betide the
unfortunate shellfish which, having shown signs of weakness, or disease,
is surrounded by its active, carnivorous brethren. The tongue, sometimes
longer even than the shell itself, is covered with rows of very hard
spikes, or teeth, arranged similarly to the burrs on a file. As these
teeth break, or are worn out, they are replaced by others that push
themselves forward when wanted. Under a microscope of moderate power,
the radula, or tongue, of a shellfish, especially a limpet, is a most
interesting sight, and many molluscs can be identified merely by
examining the tongue under a microscope. The shape of the teeth, the
number, and the arrangement of them will settle the question.

The appetites of molluscs verge on the voracious. Break up a few
cockles, or other shellfish, and place them in shallow water on a calm
day, and watch the result. If in the vicinity of rocks, and during a
rising tide, all the better. First come the wary little shrimps to the
feast. Some are creeping cautiously, and some are jumping and racing, as
if afraid of not being in time. Then the carnivorous shellfish approach
from all directions, foremost amongst them being the different species
of Cominella. While they are lumbering along, shells appear to be
actually running; but a close inspection shows that these contain active
little hermit crabs, whose tender tails, having no hard covering of
their own, are snugly stowed in the empty shells of defunct molluscs.
Then the sand or gravel moves, and crabs appear. The shrimps, crabs, and
hermit crabs run off with the smaller morsels; but the molluscs gather
round the remnants and pull and haul and roll over one another until the
feast is ended, when some, being satiated, contentedly burrow into the
sand; while others, with their appetites only sharpened, will wander
away in search of fresh prey.

In many shells, such as the Triton, or Lotorium as it is now called
(Plate III.), every increase in growth can be traced in the thick lip
formed by the animal when it has increased the size of its shell. Others
again, such as the Struthiolaria (Plate IV., Fig. 4), only form a lip
when their full size has been attained, and by this the difference
between an old and young Struthiolaria can at a glance be seen. Others
form a lip at each growth, and then dissolve the lip before starting
again. Vertebrate fish are supposed to grow, and increase in size, till
the day of their death, but shellfish do not do this. The shell becomes
stronger and thicker with age, the animal having the ability to add
layer after layer of nacreous, or pearly deposit, on the inside of the
shell; and as the animal shrivels and lessens in size the thickness of
the shell increases. And some, when they become too large, have power to
dissolve the partitions in the shell, and deposit the material on the
outside of the shell.

The time it takes a shellfish to grow to its full size varies a great
deal. Oysters take about five years; but the giant Tridacna, the largest
bivalve in the world, has been found so enclosed in the slow-growing
coral that it could hardly open its valves.

The young of most shellfish are active little things, and are usually so
different from their parents as to be unrecognisable. Some swim, or
frisk about, and travel even long distances in search of suitable
quarters to settle in. Others float on the surface, and are driven where
the winds and currents list. Some, like mussels, are distributed all
over the world, others again are found, perhaps, on one rock, or on one
small sandbank in a large district. Many shells are rare, because we do
not know where to look for them; but if we know and can find their food,
we will find the shellfish not far away. Some change their shape so much
that, as they age, they have to dissolve all the partitions made in
their youth in the shell. The eggs of some are scattered on the surface
of the water, while the eggs of others are hatched by the mother before
being turned adrift.

Marine shellfish live in all kinds of places below high water mark; and
some of the semi-amphibious ones thrive even above ordinary high water
mark, where for days at a time nothing but the tops of the waves could
reach them. They are found on seaweed and on rocks, and on sand or
mud-banks; but especially in places near rocks on marine grass banks
bare at low spring tides. Some live on the surface of the water, some
burrow in sand or mud, and some bore holes for themselves in the softer
rocks. Some live in deep water; but the better coloured shells are found
near low water mark, or in shallow water; for light is as necessary to
the perfecting of colour in shells as in flowers. Shells that have grown
in a harbour are more fragile than those grown in the ocean, and are
usually less brilliant in colour, as harbour water is not as clean as
ocean water. The colour of shells (as of insects) depends largely on
environment, and is only one, and by no means the most reliable, method
of deciding the species. An expert can at a glance tell whether a given
shell has come from shallow or deep water, and whether from an exposed
or sheltered spot. Most shellfish move about a great deal, and migrate
into deeper water in summer; and on bright clear days retire into dark
corners amongst, and even under, stones. On a dull day a collector is
frequently more successful than on a bright, sunny day; and in spring or
early summer the best hauls of live shells can be made. Nearly all
shells have an epidermis, or outer skin. In some this is very apparent,
as in the Lotorium olearium (Plate V., Fig. 1), or the Solenomya
parkinsoni (Plate IX, Fig. 18), while in others it is nearly
transparent, and hardly perceptible. To enable the true colours of a
shell to be seen the epidermis must be removed.

The supposed original form of a shell was that of a volute univalve,
such as the Triton (now Lotorium), or Struthiolaria. To properly enclose
the animal, and make it safe from enemies, an operculum, or lid, was so
formed that when the animal retired into the shell this filled up the
opening. The operculum is usually like a piece of thin, rough brown
horn, and where no reference is made to an operculum in this work, it
must be understood that the operculum is horny. Some shells, such as the
Astralium sulcatum (Plate VI., Fig. 18), and the Turbo helicinus (Plate
VI., Fig. 17), have a shelly operculum; that of the latter being the
well-known cat's eye.

In some shells the operculum is small, in others large, and progressing
step by step we find some, such as the scallop and oyster, with one
side round, and the other (really an operculum) flat and as large as the
shell; until we come to the perfect type with each valve the same shape
and size. Then the operculum disappears, as in the limpet, and the
covering shell becomes smaller and smaller, till in the Scutum ambiguum
(Plate IX., Fig. 23) the shell bears about the same proportion to the
animal that the little bonnet, fashionable a few years ago, bore to the
lady that wore it. The shell is built up of very thin layers of nacre,
or mother of pearl, and calcareous or chalky matter, the thinner being
the layers of nacre the more lustrous and iridescent is the shell.

As would be expected from its isolated position, many of the genera of
New Zealand shells are not found elsewhere. The late Professor Hutton
mentions nine genera in this position.

The dispersal of shells is an interesting natural phenomenon. The eggs
of molluscs are so small that they can easily be carried by currents,
attached to floating seaweed or floating timber, on the hulls of ships,
or in the feathers or feet of our migratory birds, such as the godwit,
which every year travels from New Zealand to Siberia and back. A great
many of our shells are found on the Australian coasts; and a surprising
number are common to both New Zealand and Queensland.

In describing the illustrations, length means extreme length, and by
measuring the shell on the plate the proportionate width can be
ascertained. The illustrations are, generally speaking, half the natural
length of the shell depicted; and the shell photographed, although in
most cases an average full-sized specimen, in some instances was smaller
than the average.




Shells are described as live and dead shells. Live shells are those
found with the animal enclosed, and are more likely to be perfect in
form and colour than dead shells. Dead shells found amongst rocks are
nearly always battered and worn, and useless from the collector's point
of view. Live shells are found below high water mark, among rocks, or in
the sand, or amongst seaweed and marine grasses.

Wait till a storm from the sea is ended, and then, if the wind is
blowing from the land, a rich harvest of live and dead shells will be
found on the sandy beaches and amongst the seaweed and wrack that comes
ashore. Many of the smaller shells will be found amongst the leaves and
roots of kelp. Start early in the morning, or pigs, rats, and seabirds
will have destroyed the choicest specimens. Even such solid bivalves as
the Dosinia will be carried skywards by the gulls and dropped on to a
hard part of the beach, so that the shells may be cracked and the gulls
get the contents. Most birds have this habit; even thrushes can be seen
carrying snails up in the air and dropping them on to paths. Soak the
dead shells in hot water for a few hours to get rid of the salt, and
then scrub with a hard brush, or, if encrusted or very dirty, rub with
sand, using a brush or cloth. No need to fear hurting them, unless very
fragile, in which case the best thing is a soft toothbrush, with fine
sand. If patches of dirt, or encrustations, still remain, scrape with a
piece of hard wood or a knife. As a last resource use muriatic acid,
diluted with an equal volume of water; but be careful to put it only on
the spots to be cleaned, using a penholder, or small stick, with a small
piece of rag tied to the point. The inside of the shell, if discoloured,
can be cleaned in the same way. When cleaned, wash again carefully, and
dry thoroughly. Then rub the shell with a mixture of sewing machine oil
and chloroform in equal parts. The machine oil, being fish oil, will
replace the oil the shell has lost, and chloroform is the best restorer
of colour we have. For very delicate shells poppy oil is sometimes used;
but it is expensive and difficult to obtain.

The greatest trouble is getting the animal out of live shells. Anthills
are few and small in New Zealand, so the lazy man's method of putting
shells on an anthill, and letting the insects do the work, is
impracticable. Boiling for a minute will not hurt the stronger and
heavier shells; but even pouring boiling water on the more delicate
shells will cause them in time to fade. After taking the shells out of
the boiling water, let them cool, and then place them in cold, fresh
water for a couple of days in summer or for a week in winter, changing
the water every day. The animal can then usually be removed with a
bradawl, or, better still, a sail needle stuck into a cork. Although
soaking in fresh water for a few days makes the animal slip out more
easily, still a large proportion will break during extraction. The piece

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