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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


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(Paryphanta busbyi).

This is a North Auckland representative of a group of large carnivorous snails found only in New Zealand, but with near relatives in Tasmania and Victoria. The shell of the species is a flattened spiral 2 ½–3 in. across of dark greenish colour. The animal feeds on earthworms and slugs and produces hard, limy-shelled eggs of about ½ in. long which it deposits in nests under the leaf mould of the forest floor. Thirty-eight species and varieties of these large carnivorous snails are known from New Zealand. Although they are distributed from the North Cape to Southland, they occur mostly west of the main axial mountain systems, either in rain forest or in subalpine forest and tussock. Some of the South Island species are brilliantly coloured—Paryphanta superba grows to 3 ½ in. in diameter and is uniformly khaki; P. gilliesi is red-brown like rosewood; P. lignaria is alternately dark brown and yellowish in radial stripes; and P. hochstetteri, from the mountain tops of Nelson, is spirally banded, lined in reds and browns on a yellowish ground. Many of the subspecies occupy restricted areas bounded by topographic features, which function as segregating influences. Study of the distributional patterns throws light on former land connections and past topography. Such evidence points fairly conclusively to the very recent origin of Cook Strait.

by Arthur William Baden Powell, Assistant Director, Auckland Institute and Museum.


Arthur William Baden Powell, Assistant Director, Auckland Institute and Museum.