Scaphander lignarius

Scaphander lignarius (Linnaeus, 1758)

Scaphander lignarius @ Artsdatabanken - Cephalaspids of Norway by Manuel Malaquias
Class: Gastropoda  Cuvier, 1797
Subclass: Heterobranchia  J.E. Gray, 1840
Clade: Euthyneura  Spengel, 1881
Clade: Euopisthobranchia  Jörger et al., 2010
Clade: Cephalaspidea  P. Fischer, 1883
Superfamily: Philinoidea  J.E. Gray, 1850
Family: Scaphandridae  G.O. Sars, 1878
Genus: Scaphander  de Montfort, 1810
Species: Scaphander lignarius (Linnaeus, 1758) [Bulla]


  • Assula convoluta Schumacher, 1817
  • Bulla laevis Aradas & Maggiore, 1840
  • Bulla lignaria Linnaeus, 1758 (original)
  • Bulla zonata Turton, 1834
  • Gioenia sicula Bruguière, 1792
  • Scaphander brownii Leach, 1852
  • Scaphander giganteus Risso, 1826
  • Scaphander lignarius var. alba Jeffreys, 1867
  • Scaphander lignarius var. britannica Monterosato, 1884
  • Scaphander lignarius var. brittanica Monterosato, 1884
  • Scaphander lignarius var. curta Jeffreys, 1867
  • Scaphander lignarius var. hidalgoi Bucquoy, Dautzenberg & Dollfus, 1882
  • Scaphander lignarius var. minuscula Monterosato, 1884
  • Scaphander lignarius var. targionia Risso, 1826
  • Scaphander targionius Risso, 1826
  • Tricla gioeni Philippson, 1788

The shell of this cephalaspidean is external, large, thick and pear-shaped in dorsal view. The size of the shell can reach up to 6 cm in the largest specimens, however, despite its size, the soft parts of the animal can not be fully retracted within. The shell of the living animal has an outer thin layer of brown periostracum. Beneath it, the outer surface of the shell has a pattern of very tightly arranged spiral lines over a light brown background. The apex of the shell is narrow and concave. The opening of the shell is very wide, as long as the total of the shell, and wider on the anterior side. The inside of the shell is white and the inner lip of the opening has a thick and white retreat. The animal’s body is white or slightly yellow, the head shield is broad, square-shaped and with two rounded lobes extending backwards. The eyes are not visible. The foot is wide and as long as the shell and while the parapodial lobes are well developed, they don’t usually fully cover the shell.

This species lives in sand or mud bottoms into which it can easily bury down to 5 cm, because of the shape of the foot and the cephalic shield, to hunt its preys. Lives at depths between 30 and 700 m and is often caught in commercial trawl fisheries. It has been cited feeding on foraminifera, polychaete worms, scaphopod molluscs, bivalves and gastropods, sipunculids, irregular urchins (Echinocyamus, Echinocardium) and some crustaceans (Thompson, 1976). When disturbed it is able to secrete a yellowish viscous fluid, possibly with defensive mission.


  • Scaphander. From Greek “skaphe”, boat, any excavated object + “andros”, man.
  • Lignarius. In Latin means “belonging or related to wood” because of the shell colouration.

S. lignarius lives in all European coasts, from Iceland and Norway to the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands and Madeira. In the Iberian Peninsula it has been recorded in all coastal areas, both Atlantic and Mediterranean, also in the Balearic islands (Cervera et al., 2004). In Catalonia it has been cited in several locations and trawling grounds like those near Llançà, Blanes, Sant Pol de Mar, Mataró, Vilassar de Mar, Sitges, Vilanova, Cubelles, Calafell, Montroig del Camp and Sant Carles de la Rapita.

Known georeferenced records of the species: Scaphander lignarius (z-200).
: GROC 2010-2011 : VIMAR
: Enric Madrenas : Manuel Ballesteros.
: João Pedro Silva : M@re Nostrum
: Bernard Picton : Other sources
: GBIF.ORG : Marine Regions


        Western Mediterranean:2 Stars
        Eastern Mediterranean:2 Stars
        Atlantic Ocean:3 Stars
This chart displays the observation probability for Scaphander lignarius
based on our own records.

More pictures


Bibliography based on the works by Steve Long, 2006. Bibliography of Opisthobranchia 1554-2000 and Gary McDonald, 2009. Bibliographia Nudibranchia, with later updates from other resources.

Further reading

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, Manuel, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes et al. (2012-2017) "Scaphander lignarius" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 29/08/2012, Accessed: 24/04/2017 at (

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