aurantiumCypraea aurantium Gmelin, 1791 was until recently the most prized of all cowries and the centerpiece of a collection. Today, now that its habitat is known, the Golden Cowry is available to collectors. This however does not diminish in any way its beauty or desirability.

The current taxon is in Lyncina Troschel, 1863 whose type shell is the common yet beautiful Cypraea lynx Linn,1758. A comparison of the bases makes the relationship obvious. Lynicina includes the ultra rare Lyncina broderpii, lucodon and porteri, along with such common specie as carneola and vitellus.
Lyncina aurantium is a big, heavy and beautiful globose shell with a solid orange dorsum and white base. It is Indo-Pacific found in the Philippines and Fiji with an apparent gap in between. They grow up to 100MM and slightly larger.  A giant one is is spectacular. Unfortunately, the majority of specimens are marred by stress growth marks. The marks are readily obvious to the person harvesting and should have been left alive to reproduce, but since these inferior specimens will still bring a fair price, they are taken.

Lyncina aurantium is a nocturnal, deepwater reef species and we’re giving away a secret here, a cave dweller that likes to hang upside down suspended on the roof of the cave. As SCUBA divers most often looked straight ahead, they failed to observe to aurantium above their heads! Most specimens today are collected by hookah divers who stand rather than swim. It is virtually impossible to get specific collection data and maybe that is a good thing so as to protect from over collection.

This specimen is a fine example, though not quite gem as it has faint growth lines that are only noticeable upon close inspection. Its size of three and a had inches is slightly below average. It will be a prize shell to the person that wins the raffle! Donated by Richard Kent

Cypraea aurantium Gmelin, 1791
collected by hookah diver
50 meters deep, Albay Gulf
Philippines. 2011