Thursday, June 12, 2014

LARGEST snail of all time

The fossil snail (gastropod) Campanile giganteum (Lamarck, 1804) is truly a giant among gastropods. Specimens can reach a height of 1 meter (= 100 cm = 3.28 ft = 39 in), thereby, making this species the largest snail of all time.

The specimen on the left side of the picture below pretty much represents the maximum size of this snail. The specimen is Campanile sp., cf. C. giganteum of middle Eocene age (about 45 million years ago) from the small island of St. Bartholomew in the Caribbean Sea. The letters "cf." indicate that the identification as to species is tentative because of imperfect preservation. 

100-cm high Campanile sp., cf Cgiganteum (on the left)
 versus 53-cm high Syrinx aruanus (on the right);
measuring stick is 36 inches long = 91.5 cm

The picture on the left is modified from an illustration by Jung (1987, pl. 2) in the journal Ecologae geologic Helvetiae, v. 80, no. 1, pp. 889–896.

A picture of Syrinx aruanus (Linnaeus, 1758) from shallow-marine waters along the northern coast of Australia (i.e., primarily in Queensland) is included in the above picture for comparative purposes. Syrinx aruanus reportedly can reach a height of approximately 60 cm. Although the specimen shown here is only 53 cm (21 in.) in height, it is representative of a rather large-adult specimen. I have only seen a few specimens that are slightly larger. 

Campanile had wide distribution in the world during the warm times of the Paleocene and Eocene, especially from 60 to 40 million years ago. The genus became very restricted afterward because of global cooling of the oceans. In my next blog, I shall comment on some additional interesting details about this genus.


  1. Its rather amazing that the snails we have today are so small in comparison to this giant!

  2. It amazes me how big gastropods can get!