Spiney Oyster, Spondylus Princeps Broderip is found in the Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico. It appears in lower Baja California Sur Mexico. It was discovered in 1976 and began to be exported for jewelry making use in the Southwest by Indian Crafts people.
The shell comes in a variety of colors but mainly in red, orange, and purple; sometimes yellow and white. The color of the shell depends on the depth of the water that shell is in. Spondylus Calcifer commonly called Giant Pacific Rock Oyster is a purple that is found in water from 0-60 ft. After 60ft of water the white Spondylus appears and goes down to 90ft of water. After 90ft of water the reds and the oranges appear.
The name Spondylus is a Latin word that means spines on it's back. Broderip was the name of the Scientist who traveled with Cortez when Baja California was discovered and explored. The name Princep was given to this shell because when Cortez presented his marine discovers to the king of Spain who financed his expedition, the kings daughter fell in love with the shell. Therefore, the shell was named after the Princess.
There are many species of Spondylus, and they vary considerably in appearance and range. They are grouped in the same superfamily as the scallops, but like the true oysters (family Ostreidae) they cement themselves to rocks, rather than attaching themselves by a byssus. Their key characteristic is that the two parts of their shells are hinged together with a ball and socket type of hinge, rather than a toothed hinge as is more common in other bivalves. Spondylus have multiple eyes around the edges of the shell, and they have a relatively well developed nervous system. Their nervous ganglia are concentrated in the visceral region, with recognizable optic lobes, connected to the eyes. Spondylus princeps are also found off the coast of Ecuador, and have been important to Andean peoples since pre-Columbian times, serving as offerings to the Pachamama as well as some kind of currency. In fact much like in Europe the Spondylus shells also reached far and wide as pre-Hispanic Ecuadorian peoples traded them with peoples as far north as present-day Mexico and as far south as the central Andes. The Moche people of ancient Peru worshipped animals and the sea and often depicted Spondylus shells in their art.