One of the rarer and more spectacular members of the cowrie snail family (Cypraeidae) is the Golden Cowrie (Cypraea aurantium). Its range extends from the Philippines south to the Solomons, but specimens have yet to be found in Australian waters. In parts of Melanesia the shell of this species (which grows to about 90mm in shell length) is celebrated as a symbol of status and rank. The animals live on deep outer reefs and normally are never seen alive except by divers. The shells are sometimes washed ashore after severe cyclonic weather. Queensland Museum has specimens of this species including a group of six very fine examples from Ontong Java Atoll (eastern Solomon Islands) recently donated by the North Stradbroke Island Museum.
Golden Cowries (Lycina aurantium), six fine specimens from the Solomon Islands in the Queensland Museum Collection
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