Photo 1152703, (c) Fabio Moretzsohn, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC)

Attribution © Fabio Moretzsohn
Cc by nc small some rights reserved
Uploaded by fmoretzsohn fmoretzsohn
Source iNaturalist
Associated observations

Photos / Sounds





January 1, 1963


Somalia (Google, OSM)


This is the holotype of Chimaeria incomparabilis Briano, 1993 (now Sphaerocypraea incomparabilis), considered to be one of the rarest of all seashells.

The original description was published in: Briano, B., 1993. Description of a new genus and a new species of Cypraeidae from Somalia. World Shells 5: 14-17.

Its provenance remains a mystery, but it is said to be from somewhere off Somalia.

The holotype is deposited in the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France, MNHN-IM-2000-3556.

I'm fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit and do some research at the type collection at several large museums, and to have seen in person four of the only six known specimens of this beautiful shell.

When this shell was discovered it puzzled malacologists. It resembles a true cowrie, family Cypraeidae, but it was later discovered to look similar to a fossil, Sphaerocypraea, in the family Ovulidae.

See more taxonomic information at the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) at:

Based on a suggestion by jakob, I changed the observation to the original data when the specimen was collected, 1963 (I don't have the photo of the specimen label handy, so I don't know the month and day). However, by posting the date of observation it sounds like I observed it a little before I was born :-). I guess iNat is not meant to document museum specimens, since it complicates things quite a bit. Maybe there needs to be a similar website for natural history museum specimens, named iNat Museum! I saw and photographed this shell in person on 2008-11-17.

Associated taxa