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Are any types of turritella still in existence? If so, what do they look like?
Question Date: 2002-12-12
Answer 1:

There certainly are turritellas living today- several hundred species! Many of them look very much like the fossil turritellas, which have been around since the Cretaceous Period. Since they belong to the Class Gastropoda, they have the characteristic twisting internal organs and an asymmetric body; meaning that they have a head at their top end and a muscular creeping foot on their underside. Also, most gastropods have a single tapering tube-shaped shell (versus those with two shells). This is the case in the Family Turritellidae (commonly known as the turritellas, true auger snails, tower snails, or screw snails), but the tube-shaped shell has many whorls, or spirals, and is long and thin with a very pointed end. The name even refers to the shape- "turris" is Latin for tower. Sometimes turritella shells are mistaken for auger shells (Family: Terebridae) because they look so much alike, but you can tell them apart by their openings, or apertures- in turritellas, the aperture is round, whereas in auger shells the opening has an irregular shape.

Turritellas are gregarious animals, typically living communally in the muddy gravel or sands of marine shallow waters where they feed by filtering water and food through their gills. They have a wide geographic distribution and are found on coasts from Peru to Japan. There is even one that makes its home in mudflats of Baja California: Turritella cooperi.

If you want to see one "on" the whole shell (ha ha), here is a website where you can see images of a living turritella.


Answer 2:

Turritella is a widespread genus of marine snail throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific. As the generic name would imply, its shell is distinctly turriform in morphology (with a high aspect ratio and many whorls), similar to that of the local mud snail Cerithidea californica. The genus Turitella is well represented in the fossil record and dates back to at least the Eocene (ca. 40 million years ago).

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