Umbilia hesitata

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Umbilia hesitata
Cypraeidae - Umbilia hesitata - Australia-1.JPG
A shell of Umbilia hesitata from Australia, dorsal view, anterior end towards the right
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
(unranked): clade Caenogastropoda
clade Hypsogastropoda
clade Littorinimorpha
Superfamily: Cypraeoidea
Family: Cypraeidae
Subfamily: Umbiliinae
Genus: Umbilia
Species: U. hesitata
Binomial name
Umbilia hesitata
Jousseaume, 1884
  • Cypraea hesitata Iredale, 1916 (basionym)
  • Cypraea umbilicata G.B. Sowerby I, 1825 (invalid: junior homonym of Cypraea umbilicata Lightfoot, 1786 and C. umbilicata Dillwyn, 1823; Cypraea hesitata is a replacement name)

Umbilia hesitata, common name the umbilicate cowry or wonder cowry is a species of sea snail, a cowry, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Cypraeidae, the cowries. [1]


Umbilia hesitata, side view, anterior end towards the right

The shells of this uncommon species reach on average 75–100 millimetres (3.0–3.9 in) in length, with a maximum size of 120 millimetres (4.7 in) and a minimum size of 55 millimetres (2.2 in). The dorsal dome is smooth, round and appears almost inflated. The basic color of this cowry is white or pale brown or light pink, with many brown irregular small spots, especially close to the edges. The anterior and the posterior extremities are rostrate, with well-developed flanges, extended around the base. The base is mainly white, with a large sinuous aperture and small teeth. Females are smaller than males.


This species is widely distributed from South Australia to southern Queensland, mainly in the seas along Victoria, New South Wales and along northern and eastern Tasmania.


These cowries live in cold deep waters on the bottom sediment at about 100–200 metres (330–660 ft) of depth, where they are usually found by fishing. They likely feed on bryozoa or sponges. In parts of Tasmania, the species occurs in much shallower water in the subtidal zone.


  • Umbilia hesitata beddomei Schlinder, 1930 (dwarf form)
  • Umbilia hesitata howelli Iredale, 1931 (albina form)


  1. ^ a b Bouchet, P. (2011). Umbilia hesitata (Iredale, 1916). Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at on 2012-06-24
  • Felix Lorenz and Alex Hubert : A Guide to Worldwide Cowries, second revised edition - Conch Books, 2002
  • Burgess, C.M. (1970) - The Living Cowries - AS Barnes and Co, Ltd. Cranbury, New Jersey
  • Wilson B. & Clarkson P. (2004) Australia's spectacular cowries. A review and field study of two endemic genera: Zoila and Umbilia. Odyssey Publishing, El Cajon, California. 396 pp.
  • Lorenz F. & Massiglia D. (2005) Umbilia oriettae nov. sp. - An overlooked species from Eastern Australia (Gastropoda: Cypraeidae). Visaya 1(5): 37-44. [November 2005]
  • Felix Lorenz 2010 - U.h.portladensis
  • Grove, S.J. (2011) - A Guide to the Seashells and other Marine Molluscs of Tasmania - Shells of Tasmania
  • Grove, S.J. (2011) - The seashells of Tasmania: a comprehensive guide. Taroona Publications, Tasmania.
  • Thomas A. Darragh - A revision of the Australian genus Umbilia (Gastropoda: Cypraeidae - Memoirs of the Museum of Victoria 59(2): 355–392 (2002)

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