Brief Summary

Giant Keyhole Limpet

The giant keyhole limpet is a primitive type of snail, or gastropod, which lives from Central California to Baja. Characterized by a slimy gray, black, or brownish skin covering its gray shell (yes, its shell is under its skin), this animal is often found fastened onto rocks using suction, feeding off of algae with a radula, or tongue, that scrapes the algae into its mouth on the yellowish underside of its body. This limpet has a black central hole which is used to expel waste away from the gills and mouth to avoid the waste reentering its body. It can grow up to 10” in length. Their shells were used as currency and decoration by Native Americans.

  • Meinkoth, Norman August. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Seashore Creatures. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1998. Print.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Genomic DNA is available from 8 specimens with morphological vouchers housed at Florida Museum of Natural History and Museum of Tropical Queensland
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© Ocean Genome Legacy

Source: Ocean Genome Resource


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Megathura crenulata

Living specimen of Megathura crenulata with mantle extended over much of its shell.

Megathura crenulata, common name the great keyhole limpet or giant keyhole limpet, is a northeast Pacific species of limpet in the family Fissurellidae.[1] Megathura is a monotypic genus, in other words, this is the only species in that genus.


These keyhole limpets are large, growing up to 60–132 mm (2.4–5.2 in), and unusually have a shell largely concealed in the tough fleshy mantle.[2]


They are native to rocky coasts of Southern California, United States to Baja California, Mexico and are found at shallow depths below the low tide line.[3]

Keyhole limpet hemocyanin[edit]

Keyhole limpet hemocyanin from Megathura crenulata is used as vaccine carrier protein.


  1. ^ Rosenberg, G. (2012). Megathura crenulata (Sowerby I, 1825). Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=527885 on 2013-01-17
  2. ^ Megathura crenulata
  3. ^ Megathura crenulata
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