The Atlantic Gray Cowrie
The Atlantic Gray Cowrie, Luria cinerea (Gmelin, 1791), is a relatively common species of Cowrie inhabiting shallow coral reef areas in the tropical western Atlantic. The species is not found, however, on the coast of Southwest Florida. As it happens with most species from the Cowrie family (Cypraeidae), the Atlantic Gray Cowrie bears planktonic larvae (their babies drift in the sea), which will grow until the moment of metamorphosis to their adult, bottom-living lives. The larval shell is very distinctive from the adult one in this and other species of Cowries. The images show three growth stages in the life of the Atlantic Gray Cowrie. They are all so different, yet all represent stages in the development of the same species.
The Atlantic Gray Cowrie, Luria cinerea (Gmelin, 1791): from left, two views of the planktonic larval shell; middle, the juvenile shell after settlement to life on the bottom; and adult shell. Scale bars are 10 mm for the adult shell and 0.5 mm for the other images. All photos by José H. Leal.