Cypraea tigris Linn, 1758
on reef inside lagoon,1-2m
Pohnpei, Micronesia 2009
Cypraea pantherina Solander, 1786
Bahlak Archipelago, Eritrea
in the Red Sea off
Masawa, Ethiopia 2012
What was Carl Linnaeus thinking in 1758 when he named a spotted shell after a tiger? A large and beautiful cowrie, Cypraea tigris often is the first and always a must have in every shell collection. Once abundant, it is now scarce and in many locations endangered. Not only has it been over collected for the specimen and shell craft markets, but it is edible and a local delicacy.
Cypraea pantherina is its very close sibling. Although the patterns and colors are almost identical the two are easy to distinguish by size and shape. Panthers, are elongate and never reach the size of Tigers plus the average size is considerably smaller. Cypreae tigris is widespread in coral reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific region while Cypraes pantherina is restricted to the Red Sea.
Our February specimens are desirable to both the beginning and advanced collector. To the beginner it illustrates the size variation of adults from extra large to dwarf specimens of Cypraea tigris, while comparing the Tiger to the Panther teaches how to distinguish the difference between closely related specie. For the advanced collector, the locations are very desirable, especially the dwarf from Micronesia, a remote island whose shells virtually never reach our market. How often does one see shells form Ethiopia? These specimens are very attractive with dorsal colors that are out of the ordinary.
Old time collectors will be shocked at the prices these specimens now command. Philippine Tgers however are still among the cheaper specimen shells, for now anyway!
Donated from the collection of Richard Kent.