Olive shell

Olive shell

Olive shells, olive snails, or olives, scientific name Olividae, are a family of minute to large predatory sea snails with smooth, shiny, elongated oval-shaped shells. The shells often show various muted but attractive colors, and may be patterned also.

Scientifically speaking, these animals are marine gastropod molluscs in the family Olividae, within the order Sorbeoconcha, specifically the infraorder Neogastropoda.


Olive snails are found worldwide, in subtropical and tropical seas and oceans.


These snails are found on sandy substrates intertidally and subtidally.

Life habits

The olive snails are all carnivorous sand-burrowers. They feeding mostly on bivalves and carrion and are known as some of the fastest burrowers among snails. They secrete a mucus similar to that of the Muricidae, from which a purple dye can be made.

Shell description

Physically the shells are oval and cylindrical in shape. They have a well-developed stepped spire. Olive shells have a siphonal notch at the posterior end of the long narrow aperture. The siphon of the living animal protrudes from the the siphon notch.

The shell surface is extremely glossy because in life the mantle almost always covers the shell.

The fossil record

Olive shells first appeared during the Campanian.

Human use

Olive shells are popular with shell collectors, and are also often made into jewelry and other decorative items.

The shell of the lettered olive, Oliva sayana, is the state shell of South Carolina in the United States.



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