- "Testa lævigata, ovata, convexa, marginibus involutis, apertura longitudinalis, angustata, utrinque dentata, ad extremitates effusa. Spira minima, obtecta."—Lam. Ann. du Mus. vol. 16. p. 443.
- Animal marinum (Pectinibranchi). Penula dilatata, testam omnino obtegens. Tentacula depressa, subulata. Oculi juxta tentaculorum basin externam adsiti.—Adanson, H. N. du Senegal.
- Shell smooth, oval, convex, the margins turned inward; aperture longitudinal, narrow, toothed on both sides, the extremities effuse. Spire minute, concealed.—Lamarck.
- Animal marine; mantle dilated and folding over the whole shell. Tentacula depressed, subulate, at the external base of which are the eyes.—Adanson.
- C. testâ obtusâ, gibbâ, aurantiacâ, ad latera tesseris albis fuscisque alternis tessellata.
- Shell obtuse, gibbous, orange, the sides with alternate tessellated spots of white and brown.
Amidst all the changes in systematic arrangement which Conchology has, of late years, undergone, the Cyprææ remain untouched; indeed, they present such a uniformity of character, that the most superficial observer cannot mistake them. A few species of Ovula, however, bear a strong resemblance to the genus, but may be known from not having teeth on each side the mouth. The Cowries are without exception the most beautiful of all shells, whether the richness and harmony of their colours, or the exquisite polish of their exterior, is considered; but (like many other things of more consequence) their beauty is depreciated by their frequency. The indefatigable Lamarck has described sixty-six species, only one of which inhabits the European seas. Adanson has furnished a minute account of the structure of the animal, and Bruguiere has given long and interesting details of its economy.
Mrs. Mawe is in possession of this very beautiful little shell; a string of them were presented her as coming from New Zealand: that which formed the centre was the only perfect specimen, and from that the figures were taken.