The Mitridae is an exceptionally large family of shells. They are commonly called Miter or Mitre shells depending on one’s choice of spelling. Vexillum was one of the many genera of Mitridae but now falls in its own family formerly called Vexillidae but now called Costellaridae. Confusing? In any event vexillum are still mitres shells and there are about 500 different kinds of them. Mitre are recognized by their sharp pointed spire and a long narrow aperture with three or more prominent folds inside the columnella. The mitres are carnivorous with varying diet depending on the individual specie. They are tropical and most are from the Indo-Pacific region. Generally they are found burrowed in the sand but also live among seaweed or under corals. Most like shallow water but a few prefer deep. Although all vexillum are all very similar in shape they vary widely in sculpture and color patterns as will be seen by examining these four specimens.

Vexillum mirabilis, Adams 1853, 10m by local divers, sandy and muddy bottom, Bohol, Philippines

Vexillum caffrum, Linne 1758, waterline in low tide, Yule Point, Queensland, Australia

Vexillum costatum, Gmelin 1991, tangle net @ 50m gravel, Olango Island, Cebu, Philippines

Vexillum stainforthi, Reeve, 1841, 110ft sandy mud by SCUBA Nago bay, Okinawa

Shells donated from the collection of Richard Kent