Ovatipsa chinensis

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Ovatipsa chinensis
Cypraea chinensis with fully extended mantle.jpg
A live Ovatipsa chinensis with its mantle fully extended
Ovatipsa chinensis 01.JPG
Five views of a shell of Ovatipsa chinensis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Superfamily: Cypraeoidea
(unranked): clade Caenogastropoda

clade Hypsogastropoda
clade Littorinimorpha

Family: Cypraeidae
Genus: Ovatipsa
Species: O. chinensis
Binomial name
Ovatipsa chinensis
(Gmelin, 1791)
  • Cribraria chinensis (Gmelin, 1791)
  • Cribraria cruenta
  • Cypraea chinensis Gmelin, 1791 (basionym)
  • Cypraea cruenta
  • Erronea chinensis (Gmelin, 1791)

Ovatipsa chinensis common name the Chinese cowrie, is a species of cowry, a sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Cypraeidae, the cowries. [1]


The mantle of the animal is bright red, and it is completely covered by protruding short filaments. The shells of this species reach 25–50 millimetres (0.98–1.97 in) of length. The shells are smooth and elongate, light brown or yellowish in color with clear dots on the dorsum and a flat white base. With the subspecies variolaria (Lamarck, 1810), the basic color of the shell is light brown, with slight purple spots on the edges.

Ovatipsa chinensis variolaria, Philippines - dorsal view
Ovatipsa chinensis variolaria, Philippines - lateral view

Distribution and Habitat[edit]

This species is found throughout the Indian Ocean and in the Central Pacific Ocean, in seas along Red Sea, East Africa, Australia, Indonesia and Philippines, in intertidal waters at 35–45 metres (115–148 ft) of depth . The Chinese cowry is active at night and hides under rocks in cracks and crevices during the day.


The following subspecies have been recognized : [1]

  • Ovatipsa chinensis amiges (Melvill and Standen, 1915)
  • Ovatipsa chinensis chinensis (Gmelin, 1791)
  • Ovatipsa chinensis somaliana Lorenz, 1999
  • Ovatipsa chinensis variolaria (Lamarck, 1810)
  • Ovatipsa chinensis violacea (Rous, 1905)


  • Copley, H. (1945). List of cowries collected on the Kenyan coast by Colonel Maxwell and friends during July, 1944. JEANHS XVII (83&84): 160
  • Verdcourt, B. (1954). The cowries of the East African Coast (Kenya, Tanganyika, Zanzibar and Pemba). Journal of the East Africa Natural History Society 22(4) 96: 129-144, 17 pls.
  • Drivas, J. & M. Jay (1988). Coquillages de La Réunion et de l'île Maurice

External links[edit]