Apertural view of a shell of Rhinoclavis vertagus.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
(unranked): clade Caenogastropoda

clade Sorbeoconcha

Superfamily: Cerithioidea
Family: Cerithiidae
Fleming, 1822[1]
71 extant species of Bittiinae[2]

114 extant species of Cerithiinae[2]

Fossil Bittium reticulatum.
50 second video of snails (most likely Natica chemnitzi and Cerithium muscarum) feeding on the sea floor in the Sea of Cortez, Puerto Peñasco, Mexico

Cerithiidae, common name the cerithiids or ceriths, is a large family of medium-sized marine gastropods in the clade Sorbeoconcha.



Ceriths are found worldwide on sandy bottoms, reef flats or coral reef rock covered with sand and algae in the sublittoral zone of warm or temperate waters. Most are found in tropical areas. A few occur along the European coastline and about 30 species in two genera are found along the American[ambiguous] coast. A few species occur in estuarine areas of mangrove forests close to the sea. Only a few species of the subfamily Bittiinae are found in deep water.


Ceriths are herbivores and detrivores that graze the sea bed.


Their slender shell is elongated with a pointed spire. They vary in size from 3 mm (Bittium alternatum) to 150 mm (Cerithium nodulosum). The smallest shells are found in the subfamily Bittiinae.

The many whorls have radial sculpture with axial ridges and nodules. The aperture shows at its base a vague curve or a distinct siphonal canal. The aperture is closed off by a thin oval brown operculum that is corneous and paucispiral. The palatal wall of the aperture is somewhat enlarged and often shows a varix.

The taenioglossan radula has seven teeth in each row. The single rachidian tooth is flanked on each side by one rhomboidal lateral tooth and two long, hook-like marginal teeth.


The following three subfamilies have been recognized in the taxonomy of Bouchet & Rocroi (2005):[3]

  • Alabininae Dall, 1927
  • Bittiinae Cossmann, 1906[4]
  • Cerithiinae Fleming, 1822 - synonyms: Rhinoclavinae Gründel, 1982; Colininae Golikov & Starobogatov, 1987

Bandel (2006)[5] used different classification: Bittiinae on its own family level named Diastomatidae (overview of WoRMS).

Some authors classify Argyropezinae Bandel, 2006 as a synonym of Bittiinae.[6]


Genera within the family Cerithiidae include:


  • Alabina Dall, 1902 - type genus of the subfamily Alabininae, the type species of the genus Alabina is extinct[3]


  • Bittium Gray, 1847 - type genus of the subfamily Bittiinae,[3] synonym: Dahlakia Biggs, 1971


  • Cerithium Bruguière, 1789 - type genus of the subfamily Cerithiinae,[3] synonyms: Bayericerithium Petuch, 2001; Contumax Hedley, 1899; Thericium Monterosato, 1890
  • Colina H. Adams & A. Adams, 1854[3]
  • Rhinoclavis Swainson, 1840[3] - synonyms: Clava Fabricius, 1823; Ochetoclava Woodring, 1928; Proclava Thiele, 1929; Vertagus Iredale, 1931

subfamily ?[7][8][9]

  • AtaxocerithiumTate, 1893
  • Bezanconia Bayle in Fischer, 1884
  • Bittiolum Cossmann, 1906 - synonym: Pasithea I. Lea, 1833
  • Cacozeliana Strand, 1928
  • Cassiella Gofas, 1987
  • Cerithidium Monterosato, 1884 - synonym: Clathrofenella Kuroda & Habe, 1952
  • Cerithioclava Bruguière, 1789
  • Clavocerithium Cossmann, 1920
  • Clypeomorus Jousseaume, 1888
  • Diala Adams 1861
  • Fastigiella Reeve 1848
  • Glyptozaria Iredale, 1924
  • Gourmya Bayle, 1884
  • Ittibittium Houbrick, 1993
  • Liocerithium Tryon, 1887 - synonym: Liocerithium Sacco, 1894
  • Lirobittium Bartsch, 1911
  • Pseudovertagus Vignal, 1904
  • Royella Iredale, 1912
  • Scaliola Adams, 1860
  • Stylidium Dall, 1907
  • Styliferina Adams, 1860
  • Tasmalira Dell, 1956
  • Trochocerithium Sacco, 1897
  • Varicopeza Gröndel, 1976


  1. ^ Fleming (1822). The philosophy of zoology 2: 491.
  2. ^ a b Strong E. E., Colgan D. J., Healy J. M., Lydeard C., Ponder W. F. & Glaubrecht M. (2011). "Phylogeny of the gastropod superfamily Cerithi­oidea using morphology and molecules". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 162(1): 43-89. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2010.00670.x.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Bouchet P., Rocroi J.-P., Frýda J., Hausdorf B., Ponder W., Valdés Á. & Warén A. (2005). "Classification and nomenclator of gastropod families". Malacologia: International Journal of Malacology (Hackenheim, Germany: ConchBooks) 47 (1-2): 1–397. ISBN 3925919724. ISSN 0076-2997. http://www.archive.org/details/malacologia47122005inst. 
  4. ^ Cossmann (1906). Essais de paléoconchologie comparée 7: 64, 137.
  5. ^ Bandel K. (2006). "Families of the Cerithioidea and related superfamilies (Palaeo-Caenogastropoda; Mollusca) from the Triassic to the Recent characterized by protoconch morphology - including the description of new taxa". Freiberger Forschungshefte C 511: 59-138. PDF.
  6. ^ Gofas, S. (2011). Bittiinae. Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=411649 on 2011-06-26
  7. ^ "Cerithiidae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=71975. 
  8. ^ Shells Tricity
  9. ^ GBIF
  • Houbrick R. S. (1978). The family Cerithiidae in the Indo-Pacific. Part 1. The genera Rhinoclavis, Pseudovertagus and Clavocerithium. Monographs of Marine Mollusca 1: 1-130.
  • Houbrick R. S. (1992). Monograph of the genus Cerithium Bruguiere in the Indo-Pacific (Cerithiidae--Prosobranchia). 211 p., Smithsonian Institution Press (Washington, D.C)], PDF.

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