Zoila decipiens Smith 1880
Zoila mariellae was relatively recently named by the late Italian conchologist and shell dealer Dr Luigi Raybaudi Massilia in honour of his wife Mariella1. When Raybaudi first identified this beautiful member of the genus he gave it species rank, with a word of caution that, "to propose a new species implies a considerable dose of responsibility and risk".
This very rare cowry has continued to be an enigma. Nothing is known of its animal, habitat, geographic or bathymetric range. Specimens were trawled in the latter half of the 1970s by Taiwanese commercial fishermen off the north-west coast of Western Australia and in the early 1980s by Korean vessels operating out of the port of Dampier. It is quite possible that fewer than fifty adult examples exist worldwide in varying condition. A well preserved specimen is therefore one of the most highly prized conchological treasures.
Mature shells are humped posteriorly, with heavy basal callus extending inferiorly over an exsert spire. Dorsal colouration varies from cream to pale grey and the surface may be malleated and/or inscribed with fine, axial lines. The base may be off-white, pale yellow or occasionally orange as in the holotype (Plate I). Teeth are well defined, often yellow and more distinct on the labral side where they are deep and near vertical. The columellar dentition extends the full length of the aperture which itself is angulated posteriorly. The fossula is well developed and pure white. Canals are pale yellow-brown, orange-brown or truly brown. The anterior canal is often more developed on the columellar side and the posterior canal more so on the labral side