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Common name for a group of sea snails / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Cowrie or cowry (PL cowries) is the common name for a group of small to large sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks in the family Cypraeidae, the cowries.

Quick facts: Cowrie Cowry, Scientific classification ...
Cowries are generally seen on rocky areas of the sea bed
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Subclass: Caenogastropoda
Order: Littorinimorpha
Superfamily: Cypraeoidea
Family: Cypraeidae
Cowrie (Cypraea chinensis) with fully extended mantle
Shells of various species of cowrie; all but one have their anterior ends pointing towards the top of this image

The term porcelain derives from the old Italian term for the cowrie shell (porcellana) due to their similar appearance.[1]

The cowrie was the shell most widely used worldwide as shell money. It is most abundant in the Indian Ocean, and was collected in the Maldive Islands, in Sri Lanka, along the Indian Malabar coast, in Borneo and on other East Indian islands, in Maluku in the Pacific, and in various parts of the African coast from Ras Hafun to Mozambique. Cowrie shell money was important in the trade networks of Africa, South Asia, and East Asia.

In the United States and Mexico, cowrie species inhabit the waters off Central California to Baja California (the chestnut cowrie is the only cowrie species native to the eastern Pacific Ocean off the coast of the United States; further south, off the coast of Mexico, Central America and Peru, Little Deer Cowrie habitat can be found; and further into the Pacific from Central America, the Pacific habitat range of Money Cowrie can be reached[2]) as well as the waters south of the Southeastern United States.[3]

Some species in the family Ovulidae are also often referred to as cowries. In the British Isles the local Trivia species (family Triviidae, species Trivia monacha and Trivia arctica) are sometimes called cowries. The Ovulidae and the Triviidae are other families within Cypraeoidea, the superfamily of cowries and their close relatives.