Scaphander lignarius

Scaphander lignarius (Linnaeus, 1758)

Scaphander lignarius @ Artsdatabanken - Cephalaspids of Norway by Manuel Malaquias




































Scaphander lignarius  (Linnaeus, 1758)

 Classification according to Bouchet et al. (2017)
Taxonomic source: World Register of Marine Species (AphiaID: 139488).

  • 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
: GROC 2010-2011
: Enric Madrenas
: João Pedro Silva
: Bernard Picton
: Manuel Ballesteros.
: M@re Nostrum
: Altres fonts
: Marine Regions


    Western Mediterranean:2 out of 5 stars
    Eastern Mediterranean:2 out of 5 stars
    Atlantic Ocean:3 out of 5 stars

This chart displays the monthly observation probability for Scaphander lignarius based on our own records.



More pictures


    Aartsen, J. J. v., H. P. M. G. Menkhorst, and E. Gittenberger. 1984. The marine Mollusca of the Bay of Algeciras, Spain, with general notes on Mitrella, Marginellidae and Turridae. Basteria supplement 2: 1-135.
    Altimira, C. 1977. Moluscos testáceos recolectados en el litoral de la parte norte de la provincia de Gerona (Mediterráneo occidental español) 2a parte. Investigación Pesquera 41 (3): 569-573.
    Altimira, C. 1975. Moluscos testáceos recolectados en el litoral de la parte norte de la provincia de Gerona (Mediterráneo occidental español). Investigación Pesquera 39: 63-78.
    Álvarez Orive, L. Á. 1994. Relaciones inter e intraespecífica en Moluscos del orden Cephalaspidea: una aproximación biológica y química. Tesis doctoral. Universidad de Sevilla. Sevilla, Spain: 243 pp.
    Aradas, A., and G. Maggiore. 1840. Catalogo ragionato delle conchiglie viventi e fossili di Sicilia. Atti dell’Accademia Gioenia di Scienze Naturali 15(2).
    Avila, C. 1993. Sustancias naturales de moluscos opistobranquios: Estudio de su estructura, origen y función en ecosistemas bentónicos. Tesis Doctoral. Universitat de Barcelona.
    Ballesteros, M. 1983. Primera cita de Armina tigrina (Mollusca: Opisthobranchia) para las costas españolas. Publicaciones del Departamento de Zoología (Barcelona) 9: 53-62.
    Ballesteros, M. 2007. Lista actualizada de los opistobranquios (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia) de las costas catalanas. Spira. 2: 163–188.
    Ballesteros, M., E. Madrenas, and M. Pontes. 2021. OPK - Opistobranquis. (
    Ballesteros, M., E. Madrenas, and M. Pontes. 2016. Actualización del catálogo de los moluscos opistobranquios (Gastropoda: Heterobranchia) de las costas catalanas. Spira 6(2016): 1-28.
    Bielecki, S., G. Cavignaux, J. M. Crouzet, and S. Grall. 2011. Des limaces de rêve.
    Borer, B. C., and R. J. K. Taylor. 1990. The Synthesis of Lignarenone-A and Lignarenone-B, Metabolites of the Mediterranean Opisthobranch Mollusc Scaphander lignarius. J. Chem Res. (Synopses) 1990(5):162-163.
    Borja, A. 1987. Catálogo de los moluscos marinos de la costa vasca. Iberus 7 (2): 211-223.
    Bouchet, P. 1975. Opisthobranches de profondeur de l’océan Atlantique: I – Cephalaspidea. Cahiers de Biologie Marine 16: 317-365.
    Bucquoy, E., P. Dautzenberg, and G. Dollfus. 1886. Les mollusques marins du Roussillon, Tome I, Gastropodes. J. B. Baillière & fils. Paris: 487-570 pp.; pls. 61-66.
    Cadee, G. C. 1968. Molluscan biocoenoses and thanatocoenoses in the Ria de Arosa, Galicia, Spain. Zool. Verhand., 95: 1121, 52 figs, 6 pls.
    Camacho-García, Y. E., E. Ornelas-Gatdula, T. M. Gosliner, and Á. Valdés. 2014. Phylogeny of the family Aglajidae (Pilsbry, 1895) (Heterobranchia: Cephalaspidea) inferred from mtDNA and nDNA. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 71: 113–126.
    Cervera, J. L., G. Calado, C. Gavaia, M. A. E. Malaquías, J. Templado, M. Ballesteros, J. C. García-Gómez, and C. Megina. 2004. An annotated and updated checklist of the opisthobranchs (Mollusca: Gastropoda) from Spain and Portugal (including islands and archipelagos). Boletín Instituto Español de Oceanografía, 20 (1-4): 1-111. L.
    Cimino, G. A., A. Spinella, and G. Sodano. 1989. Potential Alarm Pheromones from the Mediterranean Opisthobranch Scaphander lignarius. Tetrahedron Letters 30(37):5003-5004.
    De Oliveira, M. P. 1895. Opisthobranches du Portugal de la collection de m Paulino d’Oliveira. O Instituto. Revista Scientifica e Litteraria, Coimbra 42:574-592.
    Domènech, A., C. Ávila, and M. Ballesteros. 2006. Opisthobranch molluscs from the subtidal trawling grounds off Blanes (Girona, north-east Spain). J. Mar. Biol. Ass. U.K., 86: 383-389.
    Eilertsen, M. H., and M. A. Malaquias. 2013. Systematic revision of the genus Scaphander (Gastropoda, Cephalaspidea) in the Atlantic Ocean, with a molecular phylogenetic hypothesis. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 167: 389–429.
    Flanders Marine Institute. 2018. Maritime Boundaries Geodatabase: Territorial Seas. Maritime Boundaries Geodatabase. (
    García-Gómez, J. C., J. L. Cervera, F. J. García, J. A. Ortea, S. F. García-Martin, A. Medina, and L. P. Burnay. 1991. Resultados de la campaña internacional de biología marina “Algarve 88”: moluscos opistobranquios. Bollettino Malacologico 27 (5-9): 125-138.
    Giribet, G., and A. Peñas. 1997. Fauna malacológica del litoral del Garraf (NE de la Península Ibérica). Iberus 15 (1): 41-93.
    Göbbeler, K., and A. Klussmann Kolb. 2010. The phylogeny of the Acteonoidea (Gastropoda): molecular systematics and first detailed morphological study of Rictaxis punctocaelatus (Carpenter, 1864). Journal  of Molluscan Studies. 76: 303–316.
    Hernández, J., and J. Jiménez. 1972. Distribución de los moluscos: Gasterópodos y Pelecípodos marinos de las costas de Galicia. Cuaderno de Biología 1: 79-93.
    Hidalgo, J. C. 1917. Fauna malacológica de España, Portugal y las Baleares. Trabajos del Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales. Serie Zoología (Madrid) 30: 752 pp.
    Jeffreys, J. G. 1862. British Conchology. London, van Voorst : Vol. 1: pp. CXIV + 341 [1862]. Vol. 2: pp. 479 [1864] Il frontrespizio reca la data 1863 ma in effetti pubblicato nel 1864. Vol. 3: pp. 394 [1865]. Vol. 4: pp. 487 [1867]. Vol. 5: pp. 259 [1869]. J. Van Voorst.
    Lastra, M., A. S. J. Mora, and J. S. Troncoso. 1988. Cartografía de los moluscos infralitorales de la Bahía de Santander (Sustratos Blandos). Iberus 8 (2): 233-241.
    Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Holmiae (Salvii): vol 1, 824 pp (editio decima, reformata).
    Long, S. J. 2006. Bibliography of Opisthobranchia 1554-2000. Bayside Books & Press, Tustin, CA, U.S.A. 672p.
    Malaquias, M. A. E. 2015. Scaphander lignarius accessed through: Artsdatabanken, Universitetsmuseet i Bergen, Universitetet i Bergen on 2015-04-17. (
    Malaquias, M. A. E., J. Mackenzie-Dodds, P. Bouchet, T. M. Gosliner, and D. G. Reid. 2009. A molecular phylogeny of the Cephalaspidea sensu lato (Gastropoda: Euthyneura): Architectibranchia redefined and Runcinacea reinstated. Zoologica Scripta 38(1): 23-41.
    Martínez, J., and I. Andarraga. 2003. Estructura y evolución temporal de los sedimentos y de las comunidades bentónicas afectadas por los vertidos de un colector de aguas residuales en San Sebastián (Guipúzcoa) (golfo de Vizcaya). Boletín. Instituto Español de Oceanografía 19 (1-4): 345-370.
    Martínez, E., G. Rodríguez, and M. J. Rodríguez. 1993. Moluscos testáceos recolectados durante la campaña oceanográfica CAP-89 en aguas profundas de Asturias (N de España). Iberus 11 (2): 67-73.
    McDonald, G. 2009. Bibliographia Nudibranchia. 2nd Online Edition, Annotated. 1072 pp  Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz. (
    Monterosato, T. A. 1884. Nomenclatura generica e specifica di alcune conchiglie mediterranee. Palermo, Virzi, 152 pp.
    Moro, L., J. L. Martín Esquivel, M. J. Garrido Sanahuja, and I. Izquierdo Zamora. 2003. Lista de especies marinas de Canarias (algas, hongos, plantas y animales). Consejería de Política Territorial y Medio Ambiente del Gobierno de Canarias.
    Nobre, A. 1938. Fauna malacológica de Portugal I - Moluscos marinhos e das águas salobras. Companhia Editora do Minho. Porto, Portugal: 806 pp.
    Nordsieck, F., and F. García-Talavera. 1979. Moluscos marinos de Canarias y Madeira (Gastropoda). Aula de Cultura de Tenerife. Tenerife, Spain: 208 pp.; pls. I-XLVI.
    Ocaña Martín, A., L. Sánchez Tocino, S. López González, and F. Viciana Martín. 2000. Guía submarina de invertebrados no artrópodos. Comares, Granada.
    Ohnheiser, L. T., and M. A. E. Malaquias. 2013. Systematic revision of the gastropod family Philinidae (Mollusca: Cephalaspidea) in the north-east Atlantic Ocean with emphasis on the Scandinavian Peninsula. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 167: 273–326.
    Ortea, J. 1977a. Moluscos marinos gasterópodos y bivalvos del litoral asturiano entre Ribadesella y Ribadeo, con especial atención a la subclase de los opistobranquios. Tesis Doctoral.
    Ortea, J. A., L. Moro, J. J. Bacallado, and R. Herrera. 2001. Catálogo actualizado de los Moluscos Opistobranquios de las Islas Canarias. Revista de la Academia Canaria de Ciencias 12 (3-4): 105-136.
    Oskars, T. R., P. Bouchet, and M. A. E. Malaquias. 2015. A new phylogeny of the Cephalaspidea (Gastropoda: Heterobranchia)based on expanded taxon sampling and gene markers. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 89 (2015) 130–150.
    Ozturk, B., A. Dogan, B. Bitlis-Bakir, and A. Salman. 2014. Marine Molluscs of the Turkish Coasts: An Updated Checklist. Tübitak, Turkish Journal of Zoology 38.
    Peñas, A., E. Rolán, A. Luque, J. Templado, F. Rubio, D. Moreno, and A. Sierra. 2006. Moluscos marinos de la zona de la isla de Alborán. Iberus, supplement 6.
    Perrier, R., and H. Fischer. 1908. Les glandes palleales de defense chez le Scaphander lignarius L. Comptes Rendus des Seances de l’Academie des sci, Paris, 4pp.
    Pontes, M., J. M. Dacosta, A. Ollé i Callau, and L. Aguilar. 1996. M@re Nostrum. (

    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 (2021) "Scaphander lignarius" in OPK-Opistobranquis. Published: 29/08/2012. Accessed: 24/01/2021. Available at (

To copy this cite click on the right button.