Cowrie shell

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MFA Acc. #: 50.4077


A smooth egg-shaped mollusk shell obtained of several marine snails of the subclass Prosobranchia (class Gastropoda). Cowrie shells are often shiny and brightly colored with speckles. The first whorl in the shell is inrolled and may be fine-toothed. Cowries occur in warm coastal waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. They have been used for ornaments, in necklaces, and as money.

Synonyms and Related Terms

porcelaine (Fr.); cypreé (Fr.)

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