Select the search type
  • Site
  • Web
You are here:   animal list > Haliotis asinina




Haliotis asinina Linne 1758

Ass's Ear Abalone

Matthew Hoskin (2011)



Fact Sheet




Life History & Behaviour

Feeding Experiment


Evolution & Systematics

Fossil History

Morphology and Physiology

External Morphology


References & More Information


External Morphology

In general, the shells of haliotis are heterogeneously made up of calcium carbonate polymorphs, proteins and polysaccharides (McDougall et al 2011). They are aeriform, which is ear shaped, giving its common name ear shells (Miller et at 2009). This is a low aspect open spiral structure with several respiratory pores and a thick inner layer of nacre on the inner surface (Miller et at 2009). The pores along the outer edge of the spiral are a characteristic feature of abalone and ate used for respiration (Fallu 1994). The shell is secreted by the mantel and is made up of calcium carbonate ‘tiles’ in a protein matrix (Lin and Meyers 2005, McDougall et al 2011).The protein allows the sidewise movement of the carbonate tiles, when the shell impacted and this slight flex makes the shell an extremely strong structure (Lin and Meyers 2005). Click hear for an in depth explanation by Professor Marc Andre Meyers. The shell of H. asinina is a lot thinner the other Haliotis (McDougall et al 2011). It is comprised of three layers the outer proteinaceous layer, prismatic layer in the middle and a nacreous layer at the base (McDougall et al 2011).


Fig 1: The shell of Haliotis asinina. A-The nacreous layer at the base of the shell. B- A pore along the outer edge of the spiral, acharacteristic of abalone.

Head / Sensory

The head is at the front of the foot and contains a muscled pair of both cephalic and optic tentacles (Fallu 1994, Wanichanon et al 2004). In adult H. asinina the cephalic tentacle measures about 3.77 cm in length and 0.14 cm in diameter and the epipodial tentacle measures on average 9.27 mm in length (Wanichanon et al 2004). There are also smaller sensory appendages arising from the dorsal side of the foot known as the epipodium and on average these measure 0.59 mm in diameter (Wanichanon et al 2004). 


The main function of the foot is locomotion and attachment.  The foot has very high attachment strength so much so that in some cases, when a predator is attacking, the shell will tear before the foot will let go (Fallu 1994). The abalone uses a wave of contraction to move along substrate and like many other gastropods they secrete mucus to help movement (Fallu 1994).