Hexaplex trunculus

Hexaplex trunculus is a species belonging to the phylum Mollusca, class Gastropoda, within which it is placed in the family Muricidae and genus Haxaplex, consisting of 19 species including Hexaplex trunculus. It is a marine snail that inhabits shallow waters (maximum 50 meters) and that we can find in rocky bottoms of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, as well as in sandy near the rocks regions of those waters.

The shell of Hexaplex trunculus can reach 8 cm in length, and has a thick, conical shape, with the central and thinnest part ending in a slightly upward facing tip. Along the shell, and forming striations on it, we find relatively blunt protuberances, and usually the shell is usually covered by various organisms and algae. The foot of this gasteropod, is the only visible part of the body and is yellowish in color with white, black and brownish specks. At the back of the foot, we find a structure called operculum, which allows the specimen to enclose its entire body inside the shell, covering the opening with this horny structure.

Hexaplex trunculus is an opportunistic species, which bases its diet on the remains of decomposing animals, but also actively preys on gastropods and bivalves.

Dioecious, that is to say with separate sexes, the reproduction of Hexaplex trunculus occurs in late spring, and is striking for its curious laying. Its yellowish-white eggs are fixed to the rocks, forming a jumble of thousands of eggs that to some extent reminds us of popcorn.

As a curiosity of this species, we would like to comment that hundreds of years ago a purple dye was extracted from this species, consisting of the mucus generated by this snail as it moves over the seabed. This originally translucent mucus, in contact with air adopts an intense purple color, for which several civilizations (Egyptians, Phoenicians and Romans) traded with specimens of this species.