Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

Research Article

Observations on the opisthobranch mollusc Acteon tornatilis (L.).

Vera Frettera1 and Alastair Grahama2

a1 Department of Zoology, Birkbeck College, University of London

a2 Department of Zoology, University of Reading


Acteon tornatilis is an opisthobranch mollusc which burrows in sand, using foot, labial and cephalic tentacles in the process. The last also help to exclude sand from the mantle cavity, which is extended into a caecum coiling alongside the visceral hump, presumably used for respiration but also for excretion. The main pallial water current is an exhalant one on the right.

The mantle skirt carries, on the left, numerous repugnatorial glands with toxic secretions.

Labial glands lie at the mouth and the buccal cavity contains jaws and a reduced buccal mass and radula. Into it open salivary glands the structure of which is like that of the pyramidellids. The oesophagus shows traces neither of glands nor of torsion whereas the stomach, though simplified, has resemblances to that of a prosobranch.

The reproductive system is shown to be different from previous descriptions. Male and female ducts are separate from the lower end of the little hermaphrodite duct. The former passes to a prostate from which a vas deferens leads to a large uninvaginable penis; the latter has associated albumen and mucous glands and there is a receptaculum seminis to the duct of which a ventral channel leads from the female aperture in the mantle cavity.Discussion of these aspects of the animal's structure confirms its position as the most primitive of the opisthobranchs.