Monetaria caputserpentis

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Monetaria caputserpentis
Cypraea caputserpentis.jpg
A live individual of Monetaria caputserpentis, anterior end towards the right
Monetaria caputserpentis caputserpentis 01.JPG
A shell of Monetaria caputserpentis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
(unranked): clade Caenogastropoda
clade Hypsogastropoda
clade Littorinimorpha
Superfamily: Cypraeoidea
Family: Cypraeidae
Genus: Monetaria
Species: M. caputserpentis
Binomial name
Monetaria caputserpentis
  • Cypraea mauritiana Linnaeus, 1758
  • Cypraea reticulum Gmelin, 1791
  • Cypraea bandata Perry, 1811
  • Cypraea albella Lamarck, 1822
  • Cypraea caputanguis Philippi, 1849
  • Cypraea caputanguis var. sophia Brazier, 1897
  • Cypraea caputserpentis Linnaeus, 1758
  • Cypraea caputserpentis var. caputcolubri Kenyon, 1898
  • Cypraea caputserpentis var. candidata Sullioti, 1924
  • Cypraea caputserpentis var. argentata Dautzenberg & Bouge, 1933
  • Erosaria caputserpentis (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Erosaria (Ravitrona) caputserpentis kenyonae Schilder & Schilder, 1938
  • Erosaria (Ravitrona) caputserpentis mikado Schilder & Schilder, 1938
  • Erosaria (Ravitrona) caputserpentis var. albosignata Coen, 1949

Monetaria caputserpentis, common name the serpent's-head cowry or snakehead cowry, is a species of cowry, a sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Cypraeidae, the cowries.[1]


Distribution map of Monetaria caputserpentis

This species occurs in the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, tropical Indo-West Pacific, Australia and the Philippines. This sea snail lives on corals, rock reefs and rocky shores from the intertidal zone down to depths of 200 m.


The basic color of the shell is reddish-brown, with many whitish dots on the top of the dorsum, which sometimes shows a clear longitudinal line. The underside is light beige.

Frequently these shells are sold with a purple top, which is achieved by dipping the dorsum in acid.


In literature and on various websites the synonym Cypraea caputserpentis is still commonly used.

There are two subspecies :

  • Monetaria caputserpentis caputserpentis Linnaeus (synonym : Cypraea caputserpentis caputserpentis Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Monetaria caputserpentis caputophidii (Schilder, 1927)
Video of two living cowries; Erosaria helvola (seen 1st) & Monetaria caputserpentis (last)
Monetaria caputserpentis
Monetaria caputserpentis


Further reading[edit]

  • Cantera J. R. (1991). "First record of the Indo-Pacific gastropod Cypraea caputserpentis (Linnaeus, 1758) at Isla Gorgona, Colombia". Veliger 34: 85-87.
  • Meyer C. 2003. Molecular systematics of cowries (Gastropoda: Cypraeidae) and diversification patterns in the tropics. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 79: 401-459. page(s): 411

External links[edit]