Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Step junonia ab illo nemo nocere Faciam

Semele bellastriata (Conrad, 1837) cancellate semele
Shweekie on Tigertail Beach, Marco Island

Isn't that a gorgeous shell. My niece Shweekie found it on Marco Island during our shelling trip last week. It is definitely her prize find of the day. We just couldn't figure out what it was. I looked in all my shell ID books & at all the online sites I use - nothing conclusive.  So I did what any social networker in the 21st Century would do. I posed the question to my homies on Facebook.

Karen Blackford My niece found this on Tigertail Beach. Can anyone ID it for me?

January 22 at 11:11pm ·  · 

  • Alice Treest likes this.

    • Tana Houston looking at 1 of my books & it may be a small false donax
      January 22 at 11:18pm ·  · 

    • Karen Blackford I checked the B-M site & my books and can't find anything
      January 22 at 11:19pm · 

    • Nancy Eckert I'm curious, too, what this type of shell is called. I just finished making a seashell wreath and added one of these.
      Sunday at 6:57am ·  · 

    • i Love Shelling hmmmm. is it ribbed? or are those color stripes that are paralleling the outside shape?
      Sunday at 2:03pm ·  · 

    • Karen Blackford Yepper
      Sunday at 3:14pm · 

    • Tana Houston I am looking in my book "national Audubon society field guide to n american shells". The sci. Name they have listed is Heterodonax bimavulatus. to me it looks just like your shell.
      Sunday at 8:16pm ·  · 

    • Jose Henrique Leal Actually, it looks more like a cancellate semele, Semele bellastriata; check the Shell Museum web site at
      Monday at 9:20am ·  · 

    • Karen Blackford Is there a common name?
      Monday at 11:37am · 

    • Tana Houston I was looking in another book & came across the Cancellate Semele, and thought it may be your shell as well.
      Monday at 4:38pm ·  · 

    • Nancy Eckert This website: the scientific name as Semele bellastriata and the commone name as Cancellate Semele. Not a very easy to remember common name!
      Monday at 6:48pm ·  · 

    • Karen Blackford Hey look!!! I found a cancellate Semele !! Does't just roll off the tongue. It remains cool purple shell for now.
      Monday at 9:44pm · 

    • Karen Blackford wow I love the pics on that JaxShells site. I just need to brush up on my Latin
      Yesterday at 10:06am · 

In a classification system begun by  Swedish botanist Carl von Linne in the 18th century, every known animal and plant (living and fossil) has a Latin name. The classification system begins at the widest level (Kingdom = animal or plant) and moves down through Phyllum, Class, Order, Family, and finally Genus and Species, which make up the two-part (binomial) name of each plant or animal. 

You can remember these levels this way with a mnemonic - Kings Play Chess On Friday Generally Speaking. Or you could use Kings Play Chess On Fuzzy Green Stools. How about Kiss Pigs Carefully Or Face Grimy Smiles.Well, you get the idea.

Kings (Kingdom) =animal
Play (Phyllum) =Mollusca
Chess (Class) =Bivalve
On (Order) =Veneroida
Friday, (Family) =Semelidae
Generally (Genus) =Semele
Speaking(Species) =semele bellastriata (Turton, 1819)  cancellate semele

So, mystery solved. This is the scientific or Latin name for Shweekie's Marco Island find. No longer to be known as "pretty little purple shell".  It is now Semele bellastriata (Conrad, 1837) cancellate semele.

Since I am planning a trip to a few shell shows this year I have decided that maybe it is time for me to try to learn the Latin names for the most common shells.  Depending on the locale, a shell can have several common  names. Take a moon snail for instance.  I've heard it called a shark's eye. In the UK they call it a necklace snail. They are actually 2 similar shells from the same family but different genus.  

I figure if the Hubbs can spot a football team by their helmet logo & colors and give me their stats for the last 50 years.  I can learn a few Latin shell names.
Tellina linata Turton, 1819
Rose petal Tellin
Tigertail Beach, Marco Island
So I used the guidelines from the rules to enter the scientific class of the Sanibel Shell Show and started labeling my shells like this :

Genus (capitalized) species (not-capitalized)
Author & date 
Common name
Other pertinent data (optional)

The Author & date refer to the  person who first described and named the species and the year of authorship.
When author and date are in parenthesis, it means that the species has been reclassified into a
genus different from the one in which the author originally placed it.

It figures when I finally decide to learn a new language, it's a dead language that no one speaks anymore. I can see me now on Sanibel "Woo Hoo I just found a 

Scaphella junonia!!!! Rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it. 


  1. I have enough trouble remembering where I put my reading glasses, so my poor mind can't wrap itself around all the kingdom, phyllum, et al for more than a minute or two. You're a better egg than me!

  2. Congrats to Schweekie!
    I've tried to learn the latin names..... and I'm just not having fun at it (aka- it's too hard!) so for me, I like to have fun with the names. I like my candy too much. You my dear have a much bigger brain than I so it will be much easier for you. You should start working on a scientific display for the Sanibel Shell Fair and Show!!! You would be awesome. Get in there and start scrappin with the big dogs!
    ps-so how would one pronounce "cancellate semele"? can-sil-it (accent on it?) sa-meel (accent on meel)?

  3. Very awesome! That's like the heron we saw that was so shaggy! You wouldn't think you could see anything out of the ordinary...but you CAN! This shell is amazing! WHAT A FIND! ♥

  4. What a pretty shell! You would think with 20+ years of legalese running amok in my brain that I could learn the proper names and pronunciation of shells... not happening! But I have to admit, that Scaphella Junonia does have a nice ring to it!

    ~ Tracy

  5. Nice find and pretty shell. :)

  6. Hey Karen, thanks for stopping by my blog the other day to check out my finds. I always enjoy seeing what you have found as well. I found some good shells that day...but still no junonia's for me! One day...:)


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