The Babyloniidae, or "Ivory Shells", are a small group of gastropods with moderately large, conspicuously patterned and visually appealing shells. Despite their relative uniformity in terms of colour and shape, some species show considerable variability and this has led to some taxonomic problems. Their striking patterns have led some authors to rely on the pattern as a criterion for species distinction, in preference to much more reliable structural features such as whether and to what degree the suture is channelled, and the structure of the fasciole and umbilicus.
The shellfish industry can be a good source of shells for the collector and researcher. Thanks to the general popularity of Babylonia as food, several species are trawled or cultivated in commercial quantities. Rare species can sometimes be obtained from Asian fish markets and even supermarkets. However, the locality data accompanying such shells is often very misleading.
Despite the long association man has had with these molluscs, they have only recently been recognized as a family in their own right, and there has never been an easily accessible publication dedicated to them. The present book fills this gap in the literature. It draws on the important paper "The Genus Babylonia (Prosobranchia, Buccinidae)" by C. O. van Regteren Altena and E. Gittenberger (1981) and adds much new knowledge, gained from the authors' own research. For the first time, every species is illustrated in colour, including the holotype of the rarest species, Babylonia angusta. The authors have addressed the taxonomic problems and brought clarity to the nomenclature of the family.
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