Why are Turritellids cool?

They are one of the most abundant gastropod groups.

Turritelline gastropods (family Turritellidae, subfamily Turritellinae; sensu Marwick, 1957) are common components of many benthic marine assemblages of Early Cretaceous to Recent age worldwide (Allmon, 1988). They are frequently the most abundant macrofossils in assemblages in which they occur, and turritelline-rich assemblages are frequently recognized in the literature (e.g., Scott, 1970, 1974; Squires, 1987; Pan, 1990; Kollmann et al., 2002).

They are extremely diverse.

More than 1500 fossil and Recent species and subspecies have been named (see the database elsewhere on this site). Although it is clear that not all of these are valid, there are also new species being described each year. The group is clearly among the most diverse gastropod clades.


Turritellines are among the most biostratigraphically important molluscan groups for this time interval (e.g., Kauffman, 1977; Saul, 1983; Squires, 1988; Woodring, 1931).


Although pre-Cretaceous turritellines are occasionally reported (e.g., Fursich 1984), the oldest confirmed representative of the family is probably early Early Cretaceous (Valanginian): Haustator polonicus Schröder 1995 from Poland (Bandel 1993; Schröder 1995). The type species of the genus Turritella Lamarck 1799 is Turbo terebra Linnaeus 1758.


Allmon, W.D. 1988. Ecology of Recent turritelline gastropods (Prosobranchia, Turritellidae): current knowledge and paleontological implications. Palaios, 3: 259-284.

Bandel, K. 1993. Caenogastropoda during Mesozoic times. Scripta Geologica, Special Issue 2:7-56.

Kauffman, E.G. 1977. Evolutionary rates and biostratigraphy. p. 109-142 In E.G. Kauffman and J.E.Hazel (eds.) Concepts and methods of biostratigraphy. Dowden, Hutchinson and Ross, Stroudsburg, PA.

Kollmann, H.A., K. Decker, and D.V. LeMone. 2002. Facies control of Lower Cretaceous gastropod assemblages, southwestern United States, p. 101-146. In R.W. Scott (ed.), Cretaceous Stratigraphy and paleoecology, Texas and Mexico: Perkins Memorial Volume. Gulf Coast Section, SEPM Foundation Special Publication in Geology, no. 1.

Marwick, J. 1957. Generic revision of the Turritellidae. Proceedings of the Malacological Society of London, 32: 144166.

Nützel, A., and K. Bandel. 2000. Goniasmidae and Orthonemidae: two new families of Palaeozoic Caenogastropoda. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Monatshefte 9: 557-569.

Pan, H.-Z. 1990. Late Cretaceous gastropod dominated communities of the western Tarim Basin, southern Xinjiang, China. Lethaia, 23: 273-289.

Saul, L.R. 1983. Turritella zonation across the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary, California. University of California Publications in Geological Sciences 125: 1-149.

Schröder, M. 1995. Frühontogenetische Schalen Jurrassisicher und Unterkretazischer Gastropoden aus Norddeutschland und Polen. Palaeontographica Abt. A 238: 1-95.

Scott, R.W. 1970. Paleoecology and paleontology of the Lower Cretaceous Kiowa Formation, Kansas. University of Kansas Paleontological Contributions, Art. 52, 94 p.

Scott, R.W. 1974. Bay and shoreface benthic communities in the Lower Cretaceous. Lethaia, 7: 315-330.

Squires, R.L. 1987. Eocene molluscan paleontology of the Whitaker Peak area, Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, California. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Contributions in Science, no. 388, 93 p.

Squires, R.L. 1988. Rediscovery of the type locality of Turritella andersoni and its geologic age implications for West Coast Eocene strata, p. 203-208. In M.V. Filewicz and R.L. Squires (eds.), Paleogene stratigraphy, west coast of North America. Pacific Section, SEPM, West Coast Symposium, vol. 58.

Woodring, W.P. 1931. Age of the orbitoid-bearing Eocene limestone and Turritella variata zone of the western Santa Ynez Range, California. Transactions of the San Diego Museum of Natural History 625: 371-388.