Cypraeidae, common name the cowries (singular: cowry), is a taxonomic family of small to large sea snails. These are marine gastropod mollusks in the superfamily Cypraeoidea, the cowries and cowry allies.
For more than 200 years, every species in the family Cypraeidae was in the genus Cypraea, but recently the cowries have been divided into many different genera.
Typically, no spire is visible in the fully adult shell, and there is a long, narrow, aperture which is lined with "teeth". This arrangement makes the adult shell difficult for some predators to enter or reach into, however some crustaceans can crush cowry shells and some molluscovorous cones like Conus textile can inject vemon into the cowry's flesh and then extend its stomach into the shell, through the slit, to completely ingest the flesh. Also, some octopi can gouge a small hole (using a special barb/tooth and an acidic secretion) through the shell to inject a venom that kills the animal within.
Juvenile cowry shells are not at all similar to adult cowry shells. The juveniles of cowries perhaps more closely resemble the shells of some bubble snails in the order Cephalaspidea.
Cowries have no operculum.
The following subfamilies have been recognized in the taxonomy of Bouchet & Rocroi (2005) :
More than just a pretty pattern: what the spots on the shell of Cribrarula cribraria (mollusca: cypraeidae) tell us about its anatomy. (Abstracts of Papers).(Abstract)
Apr 01, 2003; The mantle of cowries is stationary in relation to the shell, meaning that the mantle always returns to the same region of the...
A new species of Late Cretaceous (Campanian) cypraeid gastropod, Santa Ana Mountains, southern California and new records of California Cretaceous cypraeids.(Report)
Dec 01, 2011; AbstractA new species of cypraeidae is described from the middle Campanian (Late Cretaceous) portion of the Schulz Ranch...
First record of the Caribbean genus Cittarium (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Trochidae) from the Oligocene of Europe and its paleobiogeographic implications
Jul 01, 2002; INTRODUCTION THE WEST Indian Top-shell, Cittarium pica (Linnaeus, 1758), is a very classic and common species of the Caribbean...