Neptunea contraria Fossil Buccinidae
Neptunea contraria a lovely gastropod found in Belgium. They’re better known as whelks, predatory snails. This smaller specimen is about 8cm / 3,1 inch long.
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About Neptunea contraria
The Neptunea contraria is a large predatory marine snail, that still lives to this day. Neptunea contraria normally live in the area just off the shore to what deeper waters where they can best find their food, which is includes other shelled animals and carrion. By the use of their fine smell they track their prey after that that they drill into the shells to feed on the occupant. These fossilized shells still have most of the same colour they had a few million years ago. (The extant members have the same yellow/orange/brown colours). It is not uncommon to have barnacles growing on the shells of Neptunea contraria. They can be sometimes be found as an empty shell washed up on the beach. It is even possible to find shells with scraped undersides which means a hermit crab used the shell after the death of its orginal owner.
Age and Distribution
These Neptunea contraria fossils are roughly 5 million years old and are from the Pliocene period from what is now Belgium. At that time the marine environment of Belgium was warmer than it is today. Similar conditions to what you can curently find near the equator.
About the Buccinoidae Neptunea contraria
The oldest recorded Buccinoidae are from the Middle Jurassic roughly 164 million years ago, since that time they have diverified a lot and are still living in the seas and oceans.
Neptunea contraria belongs to the Buccinidae which is a subclass of the Buccinoidae. They are better known as “true whelks”. There are over 1500 known species of whelks. There is still one member of this family that lives in the North Sea and that is the “common whelk” Buccicum undatum. Which apparently makes for a very tasty delicatesse in certain locations.