Sleuthing the Largest Snail

From Hawaiian Shell News 1982 No. 7

Syrinx araunus at 0.91 meters. From Hawaiian Shell News 1982 No. 7

Reason #381 that I love my job
I spent this morning doing this:

In the last few days I have been tracking down the world’s largest snail. It is my own contribution to the Sizing Ocean Giants project. The Australian Trumpet shell, Syrinx araunus, is generally agreed to be the largest living snail. Shell lengths at the high end usually range around 2.5 feet (~0.75 meters). My goal has been to track down the largest known individual of the species. My first place to look was the Registry of World Record Size Shells that as origins back to 1964 and is the sort of Guinness Records of shell sizes. Noting a recent 2014 update, I ordered it and await patiently.

cerithes_geantes_bpThe longest recorded specimen, unless updated in the most recent registry, is the one in the top photo at 36 inches or 0.9144 meters. Surprisingly, at near a meter long this is not largest snail to ever live. Campanile giganteum (photo just above) from the Eocene is the largest fossil gastropod and considered to be the largest gastropod species ever. However, the maximum reported length is just 90 centimeters suggesting that Syrinx araunus could be larger. Given that the C. giganteum has longer slender shell than S. araunus, in terms of biovolume S. aruanus may undoubtedly be larger even given approximately similar shell lengths.

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

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