The dorsum surface is rough, with a deep longitudinal line in the middle and many protuberances of various sizes, each other connected by thin ribs. The aperture is narrow and the outer and inner lips have fine teeth. The base is wide and the teeth are extended to cross the entire base as ribs on both sides. In the living cowries the mantle is pinkish or reddish, with well-developed papillae, which serve to camouflage these mollusks against the seabed.

This species is endemic to the Hawaii and Marquesas Islands. Nucleolaria granulata lives in tropical shallow waters under rocks and caves usually at 5–25 meters of depth, feeding at night on sponges, algae or coral polyps.

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