The Pacific Deer Cowry has a light brown shell with white spots of various sizes, similar to the camouflage of a North American species of deer. Another characteristic is the large, branched papillae on the mantle. As with the other large cowries, it is not usually seen during the daylight hours. This one is about 2 inches in length.
These cowries (class Prosobranchia) differ from their land snail counterparts (class Pulmonata) by the presence of gills inside the mantle cavity (inside the shell), as compared to lungs in the land snails. Both cowries and land snails differ from members of class Opisthobranchia (nudibranchs) by their bodily configuration; members of Prosobranchia and Pulmonata exhibit "torsion" or a twisting of the body inside the shell cavity. The mouth, gills (or lungs), and anus are all positioned at the forward (anterior) end of the animal, so that food and water or air (for breathing) enter at the forward end, make a "U" turn, and exit at the forward end. In nudibranchs, the intake of food is at the forward end, and the anus is at the posterior end, generally in the center of the gills; there is no torsion of the internal organs.
Identification: Cypraia vitellus
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