Ovulids (False Cowries)

Superfamily: CYPRAEOIDEA
Family: Ovulidae


Ovula ovum on its food - a soft coral. Note the mantle flaps covering the shell. Koumac, New Caledonia, October 1993. PHOTO: Bill Rudman.

The ovulids (Family Ovulidae) are cowry shaped snails with large colourful mantles which usually completely cover the shell. In many ways they have evolved defensive strategies which mirror those found in the nudibranchs. They have bright colourful bodies and retain noxious chemicals from their food. These chemicals are stored in their skin where they can protect the snail from fish predation. In the photo above, the only part of the shell that is visible is the white region at the front (left side of photo) of the animal. The black tube (also at the front) is the siphon which directs water into the mantle cavity inside the shell. If you look at the base of the head tentacle (below the siphon) there is a black swelling which is the left eye. One easy way to separate snails from slugs is to look for their eyes. If they are raised from the skin like this then they are a snail. If the eyes are embedded in the skin they are an opisthobranch. Externally they look very like the Cowries (Cypraeidae).

Related messages

  1. Ovula ovum with eggs from Tofo, Mozambique
    From: Natasja Vandeperre, August 23, 2007
  2. Ovula ovum from Indonesia
    From: Carrie Lo, May 22, 2007
  3. Ovulid from Sydney
    From: Sean McMahon, December 1, 2006
  4. Ovulid snail from Malaysia
    From: Sven-Urban Fjellner, August 26, 2006
  5. Cowry or False Cowry or ???
    From: Pasquale Pascullo, March 1, 2006
  6. What's this interesting beauty?
    From: Gary Cobb, August 28, 2003
  7. West Indian ovulid in Bonaire
    From: Sebastian Schulherr, May 27, 2003
  8. Calpurnus verrucosus from Red Sea
    From: Michael Mrutzek, September 25, 2002
  9. Please help! - animal on gorgonian
    From: Adam Bright, September 3, 2002

Show factsheet and all related messages