Keyhole limpet from South Africa

May 30, 2001
From: Valda Fraser

Dear Bill
The best I can do is... keyhole limpet. Please give me its real name. Thanks.
Locality: Brazen Head, Eastern Cape, SOUTH AFRICA, 18m
Date: July 2000
Size: 5cm
Valda Fraser

Fraser, V., 2001 (May 30) Keyhole limpet from South Africa. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Valda,
I usually decline to answer snail questions but I guess a keyhole limpet could be mistaken for a slug, and it is related to Scutus which is definitely slug-like. I am not an expert on fissurellids, and definitely not South African ones but I think this is Cosmetalepas africana (Tomlin, 1926) -[Family Fissurellidae]. It is relatively common in southern African waters from Cape Agulhas to Zululand but normally found as a beached shell. The living animal has rarely been seen. It ranges in colour from cream to orange sometimes with black speckling. It is a subtidal species found from 10 - 100m, and feeds on sponges. Dr Dai Herbert at the Natal Museum may be interested in a copy of your photo.

• Herbert, D.G. (1988) Observations on the southern African fissurellids Cosmetalepas africana and Macroschisma africana (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Fissurellidae). Annals of the Natal Museum, 29(2): 491-501

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2001 (May 30). Comment on Keyhole limpet from South Africa by Valda Fraser. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


Key Hole Limpets

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