Shell of the Month April 2011

In honor of Easter, the April Shell of the Month is the Egg Cowrie, Ovula ovum, Linne 1758 along with its sister shell, the Elongated Egg Cowrie, also known at the Spindle Shell, Volva volva, Linne 1758.  Side by side they certainly make for an odd couple!

These are members of the family Ovulidae and are closely related to Cypraea.  Although this is a fairly large family, the majority of the specie are small shells with many under 10mm in size. The ovum and the volva are clearly the giants of the clan.

Ovula Ovum is a porcelan white shell that has a great range in size, from 32mm all the way up to 120mm. Our specimen is on the smaller end.  The animal is black with a mantle that fully covers the shell. It is at home in corals and soft corals throughout the Indo-Pacific range.  This specimen was found grazing on soft corals in near Port Moresby, New Guinea

Volva volva has an even greater size range running up to a whopping 186mm. Volva volva although normally white will sometimes be found in rose, pink or even a pale purple shade. The extremities are drawn out into long canals and the shape too is variable. Our specimen is large in size, typical in shape and color. Its mantle is white with long tan to brown papillae ringed with a darker shade. Our specimen comes from a coastal reef off Negros Island in the Philippines.  Both shells were donated by Richard Kent

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