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Pelagic snail of the family Pterotracheidae.  On the left the trunk, above the swim fin, on the right the visceral nucleus

Pelagic snail of the family Pterotracheidae .
On the left the trunk, above the swim fin,
on the right the visceral nucleus

Subclass : Orthogastropoda
Superordinate : Caenogastropoda
Order : Sorbeoconcha
Subordination : Hypsogastropoda
Superfamily : Pterotracheoidea
Family : Pterotracheidae
Scientific name
Rafinesque-Schmaltz , 1814

The Pterotracheidae are a family of snails that are adapted to a pelagic way of life. They are somewhat similar to the planktonic arrow worms .


The body is soft, gelatinous, transparent and elongated. In the front there is a mobile trunk and the eyes, the foot is transformed into a swimming fin, the organs are located in the back in a small area called the visceral nucleus . There are also the gonads and the gills. The opaque visceral nucleus is camouflaged by phosphorescent light. The housing is completely rebuilt. The animals swim on their backs with the help of the flipper foot.


The Pterotracheidae predatory feed on small fish, salps , jellyfish , arrow worms and other planktonic molluscs. You yourself are eaten by fish and sea ​​turtles .


Their habitat are the warm seas worldwide, including the Mediterranean , where they inhabit the upper 200 meters of the water column in large shoals.


Two genera are placed in the family:

In the past, other genera (e.g. Carinaria ) were often placed in the family, but these are now placed in separate families within the superfamily Pterotracheoidea.


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