Monetaria moneta facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsMoney cowry
|Live animal, with mantle visible|
|Five views of a shell of Monetaria moneta|
Description and characteristics
It is a quite small cowry, up to 3 cm (1.2 in), irregular and flattened, with very calloused edges and roughly subhexagonal. The color is pale (from white to dirty beige), but the dorsum seems transparent, often greenish grey with yellowish margins, with sometimes darker transverse stripes and a delicate yellow ring. The opening is wide and white, with pronounced denticules. The mantle of the live animal is mottled with black and off-white.
The shell of Monetaria moneta varies widely in shape and color, with some of these varieties having been described as full species. As a result, this species has numerous taxonomic synonyms.
The underside of a live Monetaria moneta with the mantle partially retracted
This is a very common species which is found widely in Indo-Pacific tropical waters. It is present in numerous regions, including East and South Africa, Madagascar, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, Maldives, eastern Polynesia, Galapagos, Clipperton and Cocos islands off Central America, southern Japan, Midway and Hawaii, and northern New South Wales and Lord Howe Island.
This cowry lives in intertidal rocky areas and shallow tide pools among sea weed, coral remains, and empty bivalve shells. It can be found on and under rocks in shallow water and on exposed reefs at low tide. It feeds on algae and marine vegetation growing on loose rocks and pieces of dead coral.
Subspecies and forms
- Monetaria moneta barthelemyi (f) Bernardi, M., 1861
- Monetaria moneta form erosaformis
- Monetaria moneta form harrisi Iredale, T., 1939
- Monetaria moneta form icterina Lamarck, J.B.P.A. de, 1810
- Monetaria moneta form rhomboides Schilder, F.A. & M. Schilder, 1933
- Monetaria moneta form tuberculosa Quoy, J.R.C. & J.P. Gaimard, 1834
The shell is used in jewelry and in other decorative items such as baskets and wall hangings.
It was also traded to Native Americans by European settlers.
The shell is still used in divination rituals in some African religions.
In the State of Kerala, in India, special money cowry shells (which are known in Malayalam as Kavidi കവിടി) are used for divination as part of Hindu astrology, as Prashnam. For Prashnam, 108 shells of Monetaria moneta are rotated a number of times and the blessings of God and one's Guru are invoked. A portion of the Kavadis are separated and counted to find out the ruling planet at that time. The results of the Prasna horoscope (a horoscope formulated at the time of arrival of the persons) are compared with the results of the Prasnam, and the predictions are pronounced on that basis.
- 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.
- Photos of Monetaria moneta on Sealife Collection
Monetaria moneta Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.