Taxon profile


Prince Cowry
Leporicypraea valentia (Perry, 1811)

kingdom Animalia - animals »  phylum Mollusca - mollusks »  class Gastropoda - gastropods »  order Littorinimorpha »  family Cypraeidae - Cowries »  genus Leporicypraea

Scientific synonyms

Cypraea valentia Perry, 1811


Leporicypraea valentia - Prince Cowry

Author: Avon, C.

Taxon in country check-lists*

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-30~50m, Dived, Camotes Islands, Camotes Sea, Philippines, 88.2mm.
The « Prince Cowrie » is a very famous classic rarity among cypraeids with a distribution from the Philippines to Melanesia to the northernmost Australia, although by far best known from the Philippines. It is one of S. Peter Dance's 50 « Rare Shells » (1969) and only half a dozen specimens were known when the book was published. The first specimen known in the western world was obtained by Lord Valentia (ie. George Annesley) from George Humphrey and eventually became the holotype when George Perry described the species in 1811 using the same specimen and dedicated the specific epithet to its owner. This specimen is currently housed in the Natural History Museum, London. There have been some controversy over its provenance in the early years, many thought it was an Indian Ocean shell and it was not until after the mid-1900s that its Pacific origin was widely accepted. This was because it was 'long-lost': no specimens were found for many decades, until Phillip Clover finally obtained a reliably localised specimen in 1967 (collected in the year before) from New Britain. This rediscovery was reported by S. Peter Dance in the Hawaiian Shell News (June 1968). It remained exceptionally rare until around and after 1980s when specimens began to turn up from the Philippines with the widespread of SCUBA diving and the advent of tangle nets targeting molluscs. Although it is only moderately rare and much readily obtainable nowadays it remains one of the most desirable cowries of all. It is a omnivorous gastropod inhabiting caves and crevices of rocky walls in moderate depths around -15~80m, the typical shell length is around 80mm. while extremely large specimens may exceed 100mm. It is a relatively little-varied species and is easily distinguished from other cowries. It is worth noting that the Philippine Fisheries administrative order 208 (effective 2001) forbids collecting and exporting of L. valentia; although the order appears to be poorly enforced and many specimens continue to be traded every year.
Avon C. 2016 . Gastropoda Pacifica.
Author: Jan Delsing

Links and literature

EN Galli C.: WMSDB - Wolrdwide Mollusc Species Data Base July 10, 2013 [] [as Leporicypraea valentia (Perry, 1811)]
Data retrieved on: 23 November 2013
CZ Pfleger V. (1999): České názvy živočichů III. Měkkýši (Mollusca), Národní muzeum, (zoologické odd.), Praha, 108 pp. [as Cypraea valentia Perry, 1811]
Data retrieved on: 11 November 2013

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