The first specimen was found in a private collection ; it 131 The Cowries. Venus Shells was labelled "The Brindle Cowry of the Persian Gulf." No further history of its has ever come to light. A second was found on the southern shore of New Guinea. It is very high priced. Mr. McCoy of Chicago has the only one I know of in America.
The White-tooth Cowry (C. Leucodon, Brod.) ranks with it in rarity and value. The sole specimen known is in the British Museum.
The Tiger Cowry (C. tigris, Linn.) achieves its handsome mottled shell colouring by a devious and interesting process.
First it is a uniform chestnut bay; the colour then breaks up into bands of close-set wave blotches of a richer hue; a coating of white is then superimposed, and upon that is deposited a series of rather distant zigzag flames. The rich colouring of the first state is concealed. In the next state a second layer of white is superimposed and upon this surface a number of dark spots are deposited. These are again overspread by a third white coating intermixed with numerous rich black and brown spots.—Reeve.
The animal of Cyprcea tigris has more colours than the shell. A naturalist who collected specimens from three to five inches long off Cook's Island described the body with some minuteness.
The upper surface of the foot is dark brown marbled with black and streaked with fawn colour. The sole is purple, shaded with brown, and veined with black. Head, siphon and tentacles, are gray. The mantle is creamy yellow, with scattered brown spots, and longitudinally veined with brown. The mantle fringe is amber, tipped with white.
These cowries hide from the sun among the coral masses in shallow water. When a specimen is discovered by the collector it is seen with its shell entirely swallowed up in the dark mottled and curiously tufted mantle, which has the peculiarity of chang ing its intensity of colour at the will of the mollusk. Touching it with a stick causes the mantle to withdraw quickly into the shell, exposing the polished back and sides. To clean a shell one must first let the animal parts decompose. 1 t is impossible to remove the body by force when still fresh. Length, 3 to 5 inches. Indian and Pacific oceans.
The rat cowry, the serpent's head, the rhinoceros and stag cowries are named for some fancied resemblance to these animals. The panther, lynx, leopard and cat cowries have colouring and markings suggesting these fur-bearers.
132 The Cowries. Venus Shells