Make your own free website on Tripod.com

It's all greek(and latin)to me or what do those snail names mean?


Have you ever wondered why snails have the names that they have?Why is a Moss snail called like that and how did Helix apersa came by its name?Snail names can have different sources.Sometimes they are derived from their appearance or from the habitat they live in.In other examples they are named after their discoverers or in honor of a person. In most of the cases latin or greek names are used in naming snail species. I will give examples of all these possibilities.

Appearance Let's take one of the most common landsnails:Helix aspersa. Helix is greek for spiral;aspersus is latin for speckled. Another example:Strobilops labyrinthica Strobilos ops is greek for having the appearance of a pine cone;labyrinthus is a latin word for a labyrinth.(In this case refering to the lamellae in the aperture)

Habitat The most common garden snail is probably Cepaea nemoralis and got its name like this: Cepaea is derived from the greek word for garden:kepaios;nemoralis comes from the latin meaning inhabiting woods The Florida Apple snail,Pomacea paludosa,is named very aptly: Pomum the latin word for apple;palus also latin for swamp. An apple living in a swamp,to put it simply. Here is another one:Lymnaea stagnalis: limnaios is greek for pertaining to marshes;stagnum is latin for pool or swamp.

People Quite a few snail species are named after malacologists or other people. For example: Mesodon sayanus after Thomas Say,Stenotrema leai after Isaac Lea,Lioplax pilsbryi after H.A Pilsbry,and Cochlodinella poeyana after Felipe Poey.

Here is a small dictionary of snail etymology:
word origin meaning example of species or genus
achates Gr. agate Achatina
agrestis Lat. from the field Deroceras agreste
allos gone Gr. different genitalia Allogona
alternus Lat. alternating Anguispira alternata
angustus Lat. narrow
anguis spira Gr. snake coil Anguispira
ater Lat. dark,blackish Arion ater
canalis Lat. channel Newcombia canaliculata
chondros poma Gr. grain operculum Chondropoma
cinereus Lat. ash-like Limax cinereoniger
cochlea Lat. snail(shell) Cochlicopa
costa Lat. rib Vallonia costata
decollatus Lat. decapitated Rumina decollata
drymaios Gr. living in the forest Drymaeus
ellobion Gr. earring Ellobium
eu conulus Gr. real little cone Euconulus
exiguus Lat. little Carychium exiguus
flavus Lat. yellow Limax flavus
fulica Lat. coot or waterhen Achatina fulica
fuscus Lat. dark Arion subfuscus
gastros,koptein Gr. stomach,to cut Gastrocopta
gracilis Lat. graceful Allopeas gracile
helix Gr. spiral Helix aspersa,Helicinus
hirsutus Lat. hairy Stenotrema hirsuta
karichion Gr. horn Carychium
kerion Gr. honeycomb Cerion
limnaios Gr. pertaining to marshes Lymnaea
lubricus Lat. slippery Cochlicopa lubrica
melas,pous Gr. black,foot Melampus
meso,odon Gr. middle,tooth Mesodon
niger Lat. black Limax cinereoniger
obtusus Lat. blunt,dull Clavator obtusatus
orbiculatus Lat. circular Helicogona orbiculata
ouros,copt Gr. cut off tail Urocoptis
oxeos,cheilos Gr. sharp,lip Oxychilus
ous ostis Gr. ear Otala lactea
palus Lat. swamp Lymnaea palustris
physa Gr. bellows Physa
pulcher Lat. beautiful Vallonia pulchella
planus,orbus Lat. flat,circle Planorbus
profundis Lat. deep Allogona profunda
punctum Lat. point Punctum
retineo Lat. restrain Retinella
steno,trema Gr. narrow,aperture Stenotrema
strobilos ops Gr. looking like a pine-cone Strobilopsis
tenellus Lat. tender Limax tenellus
tri,odous,ops Gr. three,tooth,near Triodopsis
vertere Lat. to turn Vertigo