Philine punctata

Philine punctata (J. Adams, 1800)

Philine punctata 4mm @ Menai Strait, Wales. April 2011 by Ian Smith

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: Philinidae  J.E. Gray, 1850
Genus: Philine  Ascanius, 1772
Species: Philine punctata (J. Adams, 1800)


  • Bulla punctata Adams J., 1800
  • Bullaea alata Forbes, 1844
  • Colpodaspis punctata (J. Adams, 1800)
  • Philine pusilla M. Sars, 1859

The body is smooth, without any tentacles, and can measure up to 5mm long. Its base color is translucent with a yellowish tint, and it is almost completely covered with brown dots but from the whitish front area and a distinct transversal pale band on the back, through which the shell’s ornament could be visible, or even exposed if the epithelium is eroded. The anterior half of dorsum is protected by a cephalic shield, while the rear part of the dorsum consists of a translucent mantle completely covering an internal shell that protects internal organs. The rear part of the mantle looks like an open cilinder -forming the mantle cavity- where the gill can be seen and the internal shell is found behind a thin membrane. The foot has lateral lobes (parapodia) that are usually protecting the sides of the body. The mouth and a small part of head are visible from the under side of the body. The internal shell measures up to 2mm long and it is white, with spiral rows of separate impressed dots, and is very fragile.

It lives in the sublittoral, on silty sand and on shells and stones covered with bryozoans of the genus Bugula. It could appear on the shore at low water spring tides, among rock encrusting organisms and sediment. It’s diet is unknown. The spawn consists of cord of about 200 eggs wrapped forming a ball enclosed within a spherical, transparent, gelatinous capsule of about 1.5mm in diameter, attached to the substrate by a gelatinous stalk. Eggs are transparent with a whitish embryo that rotate slowly inside the eggcase.


  • Philine. Derived from the Greek word “philos” which means ‘friend’.
  • Punctata. From Latin “punctus”, from “pungo, pungere”, jab/poke, mark with points/pricks, prick, puncture, sting (insect).

It is found from Southern Norway to the Mediterranean Sea, where it is cited in most Iberian shores (but the Atlantic Andalusian shores and the Levantine shores), also in Italy (Sicily) and Croatia. Not uncommon, but the live animal is easily overlooked. There are many records of dead shells found in the sand. In Catalonia it has been cited at Cadaqués and L’Escala (Girona) and Cambrils (Tarragona).

Known georeferenced records of the species: Philine punctata
: GROC 2010-2011
: Enric Madrenas
: João Pedro Silva
: Bernard Picton
: Manuel Ballesteros.
: M@re Nostrum
: Altres fonts
: Marine Regions

References for the species: Philine punctata

    Galicia: Cadée (1968), Rolán (1983), Urgorri and Besteiro (1983), Troncoso et al. (1988). Portugal: Hidalgo (1917), Machado and Fonseca (1997, as P. cf. punctata). Gibraltar: Aartsen, Menkhorst and Gittenberger (1984). Andalucía (Med.): Peñas et al. (in press). Catalunya: Peñas & Giribet (2003).

    Sources: Cervera et al., 2004, Ballesteros, 2007 & 2016, McDonald, 2006 and other sources.


    Western Mediterranean:
    Eastern Mediterranean:
    Atlantic Ocean:
This chart displays the observation probability for Philine punctata based on our own records.

More pictures


Further reading

Cite this article as:

Pontes, Miquel, Manuel Ballesteros, Enric Madrenas (2012-2018) "Philine punctata" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 13/05/2015, Accessed: 19/01/2018 at (

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