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Lyncina vitellus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Milk Spot Cowrie

Chelsea Waters (2014)



Fact Sheet



Physical Description

Size and Colouration

Shell Morphology


Local Distribution and Habitats

Biogeographical Distribution

Crypsis and Defence

Life History & Behaviour


Sensory System

Growth and Development



Anatomy & Physiology

External Morphology


Evolution & Systematics

Conservation & Threats

References & Links

Sensory System

Sense organs in Cypraeids include eyes, tentacles,osphradia, statocysts and a magnetic sense (Ruppert et. al, 2004). The eye is thought to be well developed with a retina of photoreceptors which provide sensitivity to light (Ruppert et. al, 2004). However,they do not have a lens and are open to the environment (Ruppert et. al, 2004). The eyes are situated on  eye stalks at the base of the cephalised tentacles, however the stalks frequently fuse with these tentacles so that the eye appears to be on the side of the tentacle (Ruppert et. al, 2004).  The long sensory tentacles on each side of the head function as chemoreceptors, working in unison with the siphon which detects chemicals in the water (Ruppert et. al, 2004). These functions are important in the locomotion and distribution of L. vitellus

In gastropods, an ospharidium is located in the mantle cavity and is situated anterior to the attachment of the gill (Ruppert et. al, 2004). Its role is similar to the siphon, monitoring water flow as it enters the mantle cavity which functions as a respiratory chamber (Ruppert et. al, 2004).  

​Tentacles of L. vitellus with eyespots at the base. Image by Chelsea Waters

Tentacles extending out from underneath the shell in L. vitellus
Image by Chelsea Waters​