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The Conus Biodiversity Website


  Conus gubernator Hwass in Bruguière, 1792.

Range: Natal and Madagascar to Somalia, Mascarenes, and Seychelles to Chagos and to Maldives and Laccadives.

Description: Medium-sized to large, moderately solid to moderately heavy. Last whorl conical to ventricosely conical in form leehmani, also narrowly conical and narrowly conoid-cylindrical to conoid-cylindrical in typical form and intermediate shells; outline slightly to sometimes strongly convex at adapical fourth to third, straight below; adapical fourth often bulbous and central area slightly concave in form leehmani and intermediate shells. Siphonal fasciole and siphonal notch ranging from indistinct to prominent. Shoulder angulate to usually carinate. Spire of low to moderate height; outline slightly convex or slightly sigmoid to concave, concave to deeply concave in form leehmani. Larval shell of 2.5-2.75 whorls (form leehmani); maximum diameter about 0.8 mm in form leehmani, 0.8-1.2 mm in typical form. First 4-8 postnuclear whorls tuberculate. Teleoconch sutural ramps flat in early whorls, concave to deeply concave in late whorls, with 0- 1 increasing to 5- 10 spiral grooves; spiral sculpture weak to obsolete on latest ramps. Last whorl with several shallow spiral grooves on basal fourth to third and variably broad ribbons between; fine spiral threads extending from shoulder to base, occasionally coarser on basal ribbons.

Shell Morphometry
  L 50-106 mm
  RW 0.27-0.95 g/mm
     (L 50-93 mm)
  RD 0.46-0.55
     (Mozambique, Tanzania, Madagascar, Somalia; 0.48-0.57 Amirantes, Seychelles, Mascarenes, Sri Lanka; 0.55-0.64 Maldives, Laccadives)
  PMD 0.78-0.90
  RSH 0.04-0.15

Typical form (Pl. 45, Figs. 4-18): Ground colour white, often suffused with violet and less commonly with grey or brown. Last whorl with separate or confluent tan, reddish or blackish brown axial markings. Each marking may have two different shades of brown; surface often with underlying yellowish brown to violet background pattern. Violet tints more pronounced in specimens from Mozambique, Madagascar and Aldabra Is. than in shells from more northern localities. Axial markings variable in size and shape, ranging from irregular flecks to large, often zigzag flames. Pattern elements evenly distributed across last whorl or clustered in spiral rows on both sides of centre; rows may partially fuse into solid bands. Shells lacking surface pattern elements intergrade with shells with a heavily blotched and banded last whorl. Siphonal fasciole white, occasionally tinged with yellowish brown. Larval whorls and first 1-4 postnuclear sutural ramps white to orange, or light pink. Following sutural ramps with yellowish to reddish or dark brown radial blotches, streaks or lines. Aperture white to bluish white; occasionally bright orange deep within.

Periostracum yellow-olive to dark brown, thin to moderately thick and translucent to opaque, with fine closely set axial ridges. Colour and structure do not vary with locality or growth stage. Periostracum yellowish brown, thin and translucent, smooth in subadults but with densely set axial ridges in adults.

Form leehmani (Pl. 45, Figs. 20, 21): Ground colour white to cream. Last whorl with a yellowish brown spiral band on each side of centre; an additional spiral band may be present below shoulder. Spiral colour bands separate or connected by a variable number of identically coloured axial streaks to broad bands. Dark or reddish brown spots or axial streaks or blotches mostly over spiral bands; markings usually sparse and irregularly spaced, occasionally absent. Siphonal fasciole white or tinged with yellow. Larval and first 1-4 postnuclear sutural ramps orange. Following sutural ramps with reddish brown radial blotches. Aperture white, pale orange deep within in some specimens.

Radular teeth with 3 strong barbs adapically, with a recurved tip in backward-pointing posterio barb; neither a serration nor a basal spur present (Nybakken, 1990).

Habitat and Habits: In Mozambique, in the low intertidal zone in sheltered or semi-sheltered habitats, on muddy sand and sand with Thalassodendron (Grosch, pers. comm., 1989); in Natal, in depths below 30 m; in the Mascarenes, in 40-60 m; in the Chagos Archipelago, in 0.3-3 m (Samu, 1980); in the Maldives, in 2-6 m. Radular tooth morphology predicts piscivory in C. gubernator (see C. striatus).

Discussion: C. gubernator is most similar to C. striatus, with which it broadly co-occurs. C. striatus is distinguished by more cylindrical or ovate last whorl (PMD 0.69- 0.82) and its larval shell of about 3.5 (vs. 2.75) whorls. Its typical form and form floridus differ also in the prominent spiral lines on the last whorl. C. magus may also be similar to typical C. gubernator. It differs in its angulate to subangulate shoulder and its more prominent spiral sculpture on the late sutural ramps; spiral rows of dots and dashes on the last whorl are absent in C. gubernator. Conchological similarities in size, sculpture of last whorl and spire as well as colour pattern suggest that C. gubernator and the form originally described as C. leehmani are conspecific. The latter occurs mainly in the Maldive and Laccadive Archipelagoes and occasionally in Mozambique. Specimens from Chagos, Seychelles, Amirantes, and Mascarenes (Pl. 45, Figs. 15-19) are intermediate in shell morphology, colour pattern, and apex colouration between typical C. gubernator and form leehmani. The species originally described as C. veillardi (Pl. 45, Fig. 6) differs from C. gubernator only in its smaller adult size. Colour pattern of the last whorl, aperture colour and sculpture of the shell agree with C. gubernator and we regard C. veillardi as a local variant. Shells of smaller adult size but otherwise not separable from typical C. gubernator are known also from the nearby Aldabra Is.

Range Map Image

C. gubernator range map

This section contains verbatim reproductions of the accounts of 316 species of Conus from the Indo-Pacific region, from Manual of the Living Conidae, by Rckel, Korn and Kohn (1995). They are reproduced with the kind permission of the present publisher, Conchbooks.

All plates and figures referred to in the text are also in Rckel, Korn & Kohn, 1995. Manual of the Living Conidae Vol. 1: Indo-Pacific Region.

The range maps have been modified so that each species account has it own map, rather than one map that showed the ranges of several species in the original work. This was necessary because each species account is on a separate page on the website and not confined to the order of accounts in the book.


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