Family Cypraeidae - cowries

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  Class
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Gastropoda
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  Environment
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Fresh : No | Brackish : No | Marine : Yes
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  Remark
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To about 20 cm. Marine (Ref. 94508). Shell fairly sturdy, ovate or oblong, spire short and concealed under body whorl in the adult. Surface highly polished, smooth and usually vividly patterned, with a low groove on midline of the dorsal side. Periostracum absent. Ventral side more or less flattened to calloused. Aperture long and narrow, extending almost the full length of shell, shortly channeled at both ends. Both lips with raised transverse ridges or teeth, the outer one thickened and incurved; inner lip with a shallow longitudinal furrow situated towards front end. No operculum. Mantle lobes often brightly coloured and with numerous small, finger-like or branched sensory outgrowths. Generally associated with coral reefs. Feed most actively at night, browsing on encrusting algae and sponges or tiny animals that grow on rock and coral. Sexes separate, fertilization internal. Eggs laid in horny capsules attached to the substrate by a short stalk and grouped together in a cluster. After laying, the female covers the eggs with her foot until they hatch as free-swimming larvae or as crawling young. Juvenile shell shrinkingly different from the adults: thin and resembling an olive shell in shape, with a pointed spire, a wide aperture and a sharp, untoothed outerlip. When animal nears maturity, features of the adult appear. Then, the shell can not increase in size but is thickened by deposition of material over the whole surface, producing the glossy aspect and the distinctive adult colour pattern. Though cowries have been traditionally used as food by native fishermen in many parts of the area, they are nowadays mainly collected for their highly prized shell, for collection purposes or for the shellcraft industry (Ref. 349).
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Ref.
[ e.g. 9948]                       
Glossary
                    [ e.g. cephalopods]


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