Murex gastropod

This Murex is a gastropod, one of the largest and heaviest specimens in the Woodman’s sizeable collection of seashells. It is a highly predatory carnivore, living in all tropical seas, but particularly abundant on, or near, coral reefs where it can easily find and devour other invertebrates. The Murex has a highly sculptured spine with frills and fronds aplenty. In ancient times, the Romans would boil these snail-like creatures for days (the smell was awful!) in order to get them to release a coveted purple dye from a gland inside the shell. This dye helped create the Royal Purple robes that were fit only for monarchs and heads of state.

Location: W1, Natural History Gallery 1, hallway

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