Pedicularia pacifica Pease, 1865

This species has traditionally been placed with the Ovulidae, but recent studies suggest they may belong in their own family. Pedicularia lives tightly adhering to hard corals in the general Distichopora and Stylaster, and the shapes of the shells conform to the location on the coral where they live. Shells vary in color depending on the color of the host; we have seen them in red, purple, orange, and yellow, usually pretty closely matching the color of their respective Distichopora colonies. A number of species have been named, but it is often difficult to tell them apart without comparison with a series of specimens from the different species.

This is a colony of yellow Distichopora similar to the one upon which some of these animals were found.

A shell moved off the host Distichopora gives an idea of its irregular shape.

The purple specimen below was found on this chunk of purple Distichopora, which had broken and fallen to the floor of a small overhang on a Kwajalein Atoll west reef.

The specimen below appears to be feeding on its Stylaster.

Created 10 August 2009
Updated 29 November 2010

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