Sinistrofulgur perversum

Sinistrofulgur perversum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
(unranked): clade Caenogastropoda
clade Hypsogastropoda
clade Neogastropoda
Superfamily: Buccinoidea
Family: Busyconidae
Genus: Sinistrofulgur
Species: S. perversum
Binomial name
Sinistrofulgur perversum
(Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Busycon (Sinistrofulgur) perversum (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Busycon perversum (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Fulgur gibbosum Conrad, 1853
  • Murex perversus Linnaeus, 1758 (original combination)
  • Pyrula kieneri Philippi, 1848

The lightning whelk, scientific name Sinistrofulgur perversum,[1] is an edible species of very large predatory sea snail or whelk, a marine gastropod mollusc in the family Busyconidae, the busycon whelks. This species has a left-handed or sinistral shell. It eats mostly bivalves.

There has been some disagreement about the correct scientific name for this species, which has been confused with Busycon sinistrum Hollister, 1958, and Busycon contrarium (Conrad, 1840), which is an exclusively fossil species.[1][2]


Range of Sinitrofulgur perversum

This marine species is native to southeastern North America, south to Florida and the Gulf states.


Lightning whelks can be found in the sandy or muddy substrate of shallow embayments.

Life habits

This whelk species feed primarily on marine bivalves, ingesting their soft parts using its proboscis.

Sinistrofulgur perversum and Busycon carica

This species shares many characteristics with another species, the knobbed whelk Busycon carica, but there are some important differences:

Live lightning whelk on the beach at Core Banks, North Carolina
Abapertural view of a shell of Sinistrofulgur perversum
Sinistrofulgur perversum egg cases.
A long string of egg cases also known as a "mermaid's necklace" on display in a museum

Human use

For thousands of years Native Americans used these animals as food, and used their shells for tools, ornaments, containers and to make jewelry, i.e. shell gorgets.[3] They may have believed the sinistral nature of the lightning whelk shell made it a sacred object.

The lightning whelk is the State Shell of Texas.


  1. 1 2 J. Wise, M. G. Harasewych, R. T. Dillon Jr. (2004). Population divergence in the sinistral whelks of North America, with special reference to the east Florida ecotone (PDF; 673 kB). Marine Biology 145, pp. 1167–1179.
  2. Sartori, A. (2014). Busycon contrarium (Conrad, 1840). World Register of Marine Species. Accessed on 2014-06-06
  3. Starr F. 1897. A Shell Gorget from Mexico. Proceeding Davenport Academy of Natural Sciences, volume VI. 173-178.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sinistrofulgur perversum.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 8/25/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.