Haustellum brandaris, also known as Bolinus brandaris or Murex brandaris, and commonly known as the purple dye murex or the spiny dye-murex is a species of medium-sized predatory sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Muricidae, the murex snails or the rock snails.
This species, like many other species in the family Muricidae, can produce a secretion which is milky and without color when fresh but which turns into a powerful and lasting dye when exposed to the air.
This was the mollusk species used by the ancients to produce Tyrian purple fabric dye.
Sea snails of the species Banded dye-murex were also used to produce a purple-blue or indigo dye. In both cases the mollusks secrete the dye in mucus from their hypobranchial glands.
Please also see the article Tyrian purple and Hexaplex trunculus for more information.
This snail lives in the central and western parts of the Mediterranean Sea
. It was known since ancient times as a source for purple
dye and also as a popular food source under various names, among which sconciglio
, from which comes the word scungilli
This species lives on rocks in shallow water.
The shell is usually golden-brown in color with a very long siphonal canal
and a rounded body whorl
with a low spire
. There are a row of spines corresponding to the end of each growth stage.
The adult shell size of this species is about 60 to 90 mm.
- Lister, Martin, 1685 - 1692, Historia Conchyliorum
- Radwin, G. E. and A. D'Attilio, 1986. Murex shells of the world. An illustrated guide to the Muricidae. Stanford Univ. Press, Stanford, x + pp. 1-284 incl 192 figs. + 32 pls.