Full Version: ID conundrum - how old is too old?
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I'm currently looking through the book lent to me, "seashells of north America" by Abbott, circa 1968.  I am extremely disappointed with it so far.  Not only is the amount of info on each group seriously lacking (honestly, five shells out of an entire group/family is not at all useful, imo) but the amount of information that is WRONG is driving me nuts!

Now, please bear with me that I'm, of course, using the internet to look up the info in the book and see if it's accurate/current, so there may be errors here and there.  But it is a conundrum to say the least.  With how frequently science changes, especially now that we can use DNA and find out more about species than ever before in the past, when does it get to the point where information is just too old? 

Many of the problems with the book so far, for example, are family names that have changed (such as trichotropidae now called capulidae, or vitrinellidae now called tornidae), species that have been moved into either different families or brand new ones (star arene, seila), spelling changes, etc.  Many of these changes have only apparently happened over the last 7 or so years, when this book is 44!  What is also driving me nuts is that for some reason Abbott felt the need to continually plop a single shell, at random, onto a page that has nothing to do with that shell, like a member of the harp family on the helmet page Sad

Taxonomy is an extremely challenging thing to get into, and in my personal opinion, especially in the sciences, getting things current and accurate is something that should matter.  Otherwise, why bother changing anything at all, why not just keep whatever Linnaeus thought was good 200 years ago, new info be damned?

So, nobody cares, then...?  :-[
Yes, taxonomy is an ever-changing science.  It is also the most objective and least exact of all the sciences, though it is now gradually becoming more objective through DNA studies.  In a book more than 40 years old, you are bound to find many discrepancies, compared to what is known today about the same organisms.  Many of the tools taxonomists currently use were not available then, and classification was based largely on shell structure, aided by radula studies in some cases.

I took a quick look at your excellent images of your shells.  A couple of comments - The shell you have labeled "Tectus niloticus" is actually Trochus (Tectus) conus, and the Marginella "punum" should be "prunum".

My mistake, I misread your original response to the question on that one, missed the R.

I have the other listed as "commercial top shell" and have found my tectus niloticus, trochus niloticus, and tectus conus for that one.  Two are turban, one is top  ???  Frustrating, isn't it?

I just get so tired of hearing him say "I don't care, it doesn't matter", etc, whenever I point out possible mislabellings.  It's like why even bother being in this business if you can't be bothered to even know what it is you're selling?  Sad
So, I'm going through the book again after doing other things for a bit, and the very first page I go to has this problem.  It's showing the melongenas, and calling the perverse whelk (busycon perversum) and the lighting whelk (busycon contrarium), as two different species.  From what I've tried looking up, they are actually one single species, those two names supposedly actually being synonyms.  Sad  Can anyone help clarify?  This sort of thing is starting to drive me seriously nuts.