Common Seashells of Coastal
Northern Queensland by Patty Jansen.
Privately published, Townsville, Australia, Nov. 1996 4 + 56
pages, 4 color plates, 116 line drawings 6" X 8¬"
Paper. About $14.00 U.S.
Patty Jansen loves beaches, and
has written a book for beachwalking shell collectors, in northern
Queensland, that is. She says in her Introduction: "I like
going for a walk on the beach. The beach always holds some surprises
and shells are part of this. Northern Queensland beaches are
usually quiet. There are no huge pounding waves and large numbers
of sunbaking tourists, just mangroves, a large sandflat and
sometimes a small rocky outcrop. There may be a few locals walking
their dog or fishing."
She illustrates the common shells, the small shells, including
bivalves, among the fauna of this tropical western Pacific region,
shells that the beachwalker is likely to find and perhaps have
trouble identifying. Most of the eighty or so shells photographed
in her four color plates are beach specimens. There are also
over 100 of Patty's excellent line drawings of beach findings.
She uses common names for the families so some of them are unfamiliar
to Americans: the creepers and cluster whelks, the sugar limpets,
pupa shells and the little pipis. But scientific names are there
too, with authors and dates, as well as sizes and descriptions
of features not clearly visible in the illustrations, and also
the ranges of their occurrence in Australia. A contents, introduction,
complete index, book list for further reading and a list of
Australia's shell clubs complete the book.
Les Muricidae d'Afrique
occidentale by Roland Houart.
Brussels, 1996. I. Muricinae & Muricopsinae. Apex 11(3-4):95-161.
Available from the Societe Belge de Malacologie, Av. Mozart
52, 1190 Bruxelles, Belgium. Price 700 Belgian Francs + postage
Astronomers tell us that a black
hole lurks in the center of the galaxy. For those of us interested
in the Muricidae, that black hole is much closer - western Africa.
We knew there were a lot of species there, but getting them
has not always been easy. And identifying them was worse. Pursuing
the standard works, one gets the feeling that everyone was just
guessing. Until now.
This is the first of a two part review of the west African muricids
by the heir apparent to the Murex throne, Roland Houart. This
part deals with the Muricinae and Muricopsinae. Part two will
cover the remaining subfamilies. Both will be indispensable
to anyone interested in this group.
Western Africa has several well-known
and impressive species - Bolinus cornutus, Purpurellus gambiensis,
Homalocantha melanamathos, Muricopsis bojadorensi, etc. But
west African muricids also have two major problems - Hexaplex
and Muricopsis. The area has a high diversity of both, and the
species are difficult to tell apart. Anyone familiar with muricids
is aware of the traumatizing mess known as Hexaplex saxatilis.
Or is it hoplites, or maybe turbinatus, or perhaps bifasciatus,
or rosarium, or duplex? Houart recognizes duplex, rosarium,
angularis, bifasciatus, megacerus, varius, and saharicus as
good species - a lot of Hexaplex! (The western Atlantic Ocean
also was once Hexaplex-rich, but the majority are extinct).
Most difficult to differentiate are duplex and rosarium, which
are both variable species. Despite a table putting forth the
differences between the two, I still have problems fitting Hoaurt's
figures to his scheme. Figure 60 looks a lot more like duplex
The muricopsines are equally
diverse - 10 taxa are recognized, many recently described and
from small zoogeographic areas (particularly Sþo Tom).
You might want to wait for part 2, which will cover the ergalataxines,
before you identify these small species. The genus Prodoxa,
known from two species from Sþo Tom, is removed from the
Buccinidae and relegated to the Muricopsinae. At under 5 mm
in length, these species are among the smallest muricids known.
Sixty-six nominal species are
covered, but no new taxa are proposed. In what will be a controversial
move, he has synonymized Hexaplex clausii with varius. In the
we-knew-it-all-along department, he has synonymized Murexiella
asteriae with bojadorensis. The long lost and extremely rare
Subpterynotus exquisitus, described from an unknown locality,
is finally identified as a member of the Western Sahara fauna.
But don't expect it on lists anytime soon. Vokes had suggested
that the eastern Atlantic Ocean might be its home, while hoping
it would turn up in the western Atlantic. Sorry, Emily.
This is the usual high-quality
work we have come to expect from Houart. Radulae and protoconchs
are illustrated as well as the shells. The photography is much
better than some of his earlier works. As usual, Houart is a
man of few words, and we wish he would expound a bit more in
places. The text is in French, but there are English "Remarks"
for all species, though the French "Remarques" are
often longer and more informative. I highly recommend this work
- it was sorely needed.
-- G. Thomas