Category Archives: Kent

Devil’s toenails

I found one or two of these shells on the beach at Camber Sands:

american slipper limpet

It’s not a shell I’ve seen often, but thought they were called ‘Devil’s toenails’ because that’s what they look like (as far as I know!).

It’s actually an American Slipper Limpet (Crepidula fornicata) introduced into the southern UK from North East USA  along with American oysters in 1887. The ‘real’ Devil’s toenails are Gryphaea, an extinct species of oyster from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Fossilised Gryphaea are commonly found in the UK, particularly around Lyme Regis.

So scarce at Camber Sands these shells were abundant at Swalecliffe, swept up the beach into great drifts.

limpet shells on the beach

The limpets often form chains of up to ten individuals. In a group, they look like an animal’s paw, rather diabolical in the right light!

limpets as devils claw