Wednesday 20 May 2015

Spindle Cowry

Image: Klaus Stiefel
This is what happens when a snail tries to hide behind a stick!

Image: crawl_ray
Phenacovolva longirostris
Spindle Cowries are a horde of species in the False Cowry family, many of them within the genus Phenacovolva.

One of the most obvious differences between Cowries and False Cowries is that Cowry shells are very round whereas False Cowry shells are frequently more elongated...

Image: Femorale
Phenacovolva nectarea
Spindle Cowries are the ones that take this elongation to the utmost! It's a good thing they're slowcoach snails. Imagine if they were running around the place with those things! Who wants to get stabbed by a snail?

Still, they only reach about 6 cm (2.4 in) long at most so we should be safe.

Video: liquidguru
Phenacovolva tokioi

Spindle Cowries climb about the branches of soft corals and gorgonians...

Image: Richard Ling
Rosy Spindle Cowries (Phenacovolva rosea)
Leaving a path of destruction behind them as they consume the polyps along the way.

Image: Min Sheng Khoo
Hiata sp.
Their long, narrow shape allows them to hide among the branches of their unfortunate, host coral, much like Sawblade Shrimp.

Just to add insult to injury, some of them can also acquire pigments and colour from their food! It doesn't affect their shell, but that's no trouble for a False Cowry since the newly coloured flesh of their mantle can completely cover it.

Image: Nick Hobgood
Phenacovolva rosea
Some of them appear to quite enjoy standing out. What else can you do when you're covered in red spots and yellow spikes?


TexWisGirl said...

really beautiful. they look like plant pods or something.

Joseph JG said...

I guess coral branches is a good place for them then!