The Achatinellids are a group of land-living and lung-possessing snails (Stylommatophora). Their English name Agate Snails relates to the pattern of stripes and the colour of the shell that is often similar to that of agate. Theses snails are widely distributed in all tropical countries, but the family is well-known mainly for its giant forms with a length exceeding 20 cm and a weight of up to 1 kg. These largest land-living snails in the world originally came from the tropical countries of Africa, but men were to carry them off to all parts of the tropical world by the exportation of fruits and vegetables. Agate snails eat a herbal diet, but are also scavengers in the great outdoors to get enough proteins. In Africa, as their original area of circulation, people use them as food. In the Carribean, where these snails were introduced by humans, they are a part of the staple diet because of their content of proteins.

Achachatina (Tholachatina) gebhardti

The agate snails from the Hawaiian islands in the Geosciences Collection were collected by William Dell Hartman This is an unique collection that is more than 100 years old.

Achatinellids from Hawai
The material collected by William Dell Hartman was announced in 1899 as “…could not be duplicated in one hundred years.” From our present-day point of view this is true since mankind decimated the populations of achatinellids significantly.

Rhysota (Nanina) GSUB 93293

Additionally to the shells collected by William Dell Hartman on these islands, material was added by Friedrich Borcherding, Durand, Melchers and Moellendorf. Other people, like Gerhard von dem Busch, Philipp Bernhard Schmacker and Johannes A. Jantzen, collected in other parts of the world for the collection, including Inonesia, different countries of Polynesia, the Carribean, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Sudan and South America. The following survey is restricted to William Dell Hartman’s material from the islands of Hawaii. This selection of species that is present in the collection indicates the high biodiversity of this group of animals on the Hawaiian islands and also shows that even taxonomically identical material exists from different localities of this archipelago.

Genus/Subgenus Species and Author Locality/region
Achatinella (Achatinellastrum) bellula Smith Head of Boothes valley
dito dito Kaolau, Isle of Oahu
Achatinella (Achatinella) buddii Newcomb Palolo, Oahu
dito dito Isle of Oahu
Achatinella (Achatinellastrum) castanea Reeve Isle of Oahu
Achatinella (Achatinellastrum) colorata Reeve Valley of Koolau, Isle of Oahu
Achatinella (Achatinella) dimorpha Gulick Isle of Oahu
dito dito Waialua, Isle of Molokai
Achatinella (Achatinellastrum) diversa Gulick Palolo, Oahu
Achatinella (Achatinellastrum) dunkeri Cummingham Isle of Oahu
Achatinella (Achatinellastrum) fulgens Newcomb Valley of Nuuan, Isle of Oahu
Achatinella (Achatinellastrum) fuscolineata Smith Kailua, Oahu
dito dito Halawa, Isle of Molokai
Achatinella (Achatinellastrum) johnsoni Newcomb Valley of Nuuan, Isle of Oahu
dito ditto Kaolau, Isle of Oahu
Achatinella (Achatinella) lorata (Férussac) Isle of Oahu
Achatinella (Achatinellastrum) multicolor Pfeiffer Isle of Oahu
Achatinella (Achatinellastrum) olivaceum Reeve Valley of Nuuan, Isle of Oahu
Achatinella (Achatinellastrum) plumata Gulick Isle of Oahu
Achatinella (Achatinellastrum) polita Newcomb Isle of Molokai
Achatinella (Achatinella) stewartii Green Isle of Oahu
Achatinella (Achatinella) vulpina (Férussac) Isle of Oahu
Partula nodosa trilineata Pease Waialee, Isle of Oahu
Partula varia BRODERIP Isle of Oahu
Partulina (Partulina) grisea Newcomb Makuawouweo
Partulina (Partulina) mighelsiana bella Reeve Pauwalu, Isle of Molokai
Partulina (Partulina) mighelsiana mighelsiana Pfeiffer Pauwalu, Isle of Molokai
dito dito Kalae, Isle of Molokai
dito dito Kalawao, Isle of Molokai
dito dito Isle of Ilio
Partulina (Partulina) proxima (Pease) Isle of Molokai


  • Borcherding, F. (1901): Diagnosen neuer Achatinellen-Formen von der Sandwichinsel Molokai. – Nachrichtsblatt der Deutschen Malakologischen Gesellschaft 1901: 52-58.
  • – (1910): Monographie der auf den Sandwichinsel Kauai lebenden Molluskengattung Carelia. – Abhandlungen der Senckenbergischen Gesellschaft 32: 225-251.
  • Kuster-Wendenburg, E. (1999): Der Bremer Stein und die Dinosaurier. Die Geschichte einer Sammlung. – 95; Aschenbeck & Holstein, Bremen.