The cowries and their relatives are among the most strikingly beautiful and enigmatic molluscs inhabiting the worlds oceans. Southern Africa, with its diverse tropical and temperate marine environments, supports an endemic cypraeacean (families Cypraeidae, Ovulidae and subfamily Pediculariinae) and velutinacean (families Veluntinidae, Triviidae and subfamily Eratoinae) fauna that is one of the richest on earth. Most previous studies concerning these two superfamilies have been limited solely to their shells, with little known about their behavior, biology, and evolutionary relationships. Cowries and their relatives of southern Africa redresses this, providing information on their external and internal structure, developmental biology and biogeography, higher systematics and phylogeny, generic subdivision, systematics of the endemic species, predation, and pertinent concerns regarding their conservation. Phenomena such as mimicry and aberrations in shell morphology, also receive attention.
Although the primary objective of this study is to concentrate on formerly poorly known species endemic to southern Africa, Angola and Mozambique, detailed accounts of many Indo-Pacific and West African species are also provided. The more than one hundred species accounts contained in the book are accompanied by lucid colour accurate photographs of shell and animal variation, and distributional maps. Many of the species discussed were discovered and described during the past two decades. More recently, others for the first time, were recorded from this biologically unique southern African region. William Liltved, an internationally recognized authority on the systematics of the Cypraeidae, Ovulidae and Triviidae, has produced second enlarged edition of Cowries and their relatives of southern Africa (2000).
In the 12 years since the first edition appeared (1989), sufficient new information and material has become available to warrant consolidation in its updated form. Through improvements in printing technology, the high quality colour and sharpness of the original plates have been notably enhanced in the second edition. New supplementary text accompanied by 86 new photographic images and illustrations is accommodated throughout the main body of the text and in two appendices. A full-colour, eight-page, bound supplement: "A new species of Cypraeovula occurring off the northern part of the Eastern Cape, South Africa, with notes on possible genetic relationships and oceanographic influences on its distribution" (2001), increases the second edition from 224 to 232 pages, providing fresh insight on several fascinating and little-known species. Attaining broader consensus about the systematics of any group of organisms frequently is tortuous and contentious. All taxonomic classifications being subject to re-evaluation, this book remains a valuable reference work, facilitating continued research and ultimately, possible resolution of numerous complexities inherent to this intriguing facet of molluscan taxonomy.