Cypraeidae - Cowries

Cypraeidae, the cowries, have oval, well-inflated shells that are smooth, often brightly colored, with a narrow, toothed aperture that runs the entire length of the shell and is slightly set off to the right. The spire is basically nonexistent. The aperture has no operculum (plate that closes the aperture). The shell stays shiny because the snail covers the shell with its mantle which continually deposits a coat of enamel and protects the shell from wear and tear. Juvenile cowries are distinctly different from adults. Their aperture is wider and the outer lip is thin. When the cowrie becomes an adult, its outer lip thickens and curves inward. Cowries can mature at different sizes depending on factors such as temperature and food sources. Those that mature at smaller sizes are called dwarf shells. Cowries are nocturnal and feed on algae. There are 4 species found in Texas waters.