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Suggestions for ID sources?
01-09-2012, 10:59 AM,
Suggestions for ID sources?
I've been given a monumental task this past week of sorting through boxes of shells, probably a couple thousand or so, that my friend who owns a shell/mineral business has never gotten around to sorting himself.  Today we were discussing how, even though he's been doing this for around 50 years, ID'ing is still the most problematic thing for him because of the sheer number of species.  As someone brand new to the hobby, I can only imagine how daunting this may be.

Since the internet doesn't seem to be very easily helpful, since for the most part you need a clue on what you have before you can do a search on it (like to know what kind of turban you have, you need to know it's a turban in the *first* place)  what sorts of books can you suggest? 

I can't imagine having to consider buying a separate book for each of the vast varieties of shells out there!  What books, sites, or other sources would be the most comprehensive, without having to buy a boatload of stuff?  Seashells of North America: A Guide to Field Identification by Tucker Abbott is one I'm currently looking at getting, circa 2001.  The one my friend uses is the 1968 version, but I don't like the idea of getting really outdated books since so much changes in the field so frequently. 

And like I mentioned in another thread, having so few people on this site, and having to wait a month or so to get a *possible* response, IF any response at all, is not helpful in the long run so I must supplement my learning tools a bit Sad


Thanks Smile
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01-09-2012, 09:32 PM,
Re: Suggestions for ID sources?
Hi wateryworld,
unfortunately, I have to earn money  :-[ and to do some other things, but I do what I can, and I'm sure, all other people here, too.
You are quite right, it's very helpful to know the familiy or the genus, at first. If you know about that, you can visit
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<!-- w --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- w -->, for example, if you don't have highly specialized literature at home.
Several books can help you getting a hypothesis concerning the family and genus (most of them are a little bit older, but can nevertheless help to get an idea), f.e.:
ABBOTT, R.T. & S.P. DANCE (1998): Compendium of Seashells - Odyssey Publishing El Cajon, Calif., 6th printing
DANCE, S.P.: Muscheln und Schnecken - Ravensburger Naturführer, Ravensburger Buchverlag Otto Maier, 1994. Original: Eyewitness Handbooks: Shells, Dorling Kindersley, London, 1992
LINDNER, G.: Muscheln und Schnecken der Weltmeere - BLV Verlagsgesellschaft, München/Wien/Zürich, 5. überarb. und erw. Aufl. 1999
The last book should be translated, meanwhile, but anyway, the pictures will help you along and the scientific names are the same in all languages…… Wink.
There are lots of books dealing with different regions of the world, but I think, most important for you today is to get a general overview.
Of course there's a lot of dynamic in taxonomy in the last years; the genus and sometimes even the family of a species can be altered on the basis of new results from DNA research, f.e., but that’s life and progress…….  Wink.
I'm sure some other people here will have more hints for you.
Kind regards  Smile: wolf
01-10-2012, 02:45 AM,
Re: Suggestions for ID sources?
I agree with wolf, the LINDNER book is an excellent worlwide reference. If your collection is regionaly limited, then it is better to have a regional book.
That is also true that we still need a prior knowledge of the family to efficiently use websites. It might change later.

01-10-2012, 03:27 AM,
Re: Suggestions for ID sources?
I've only found a very old edition in English of Lindner, G., so far:
Gert Lindner: Field guide to seashells of the world, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1978 (Orig.: University of California).
Regards: wolf

01-10-2012, 03:28 AM,
Re: Suggestions for ID sources?
The current bible of gasteropods is:
[glow=red,2,300]" Encyclopedia of Marine Gasteropods "[/glow]
      Alain Robin
                    ConchBooks ( <!-- w --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- w --> ) 2008
01-10-2012, 04:02 AM,
Re: Suggestions for ID sources?
Thanks everyone Smile

The Compendium of Seashells (1983, unfortunately) apparently goes for $52 on the Chapters site, and is "on re-order", so unavailable at the moment.  I find it stupid as hell that amazon has no "new" copies available, yet used ones go from $120 to over $500.  Yeah.  Sure.  Okay.

The Eyewitness:  Shells is not available at all (and I don't trust buying used from third parties)

The will not load for me, and the Encyclopedia of Marine Gastropods is not available new on chapters or amazon, only going "used" for $150 to $250!

The books on Femorale are very expensive Sad  I'll check out their images later on.

Another one I was looking at, also by Abbott, is A field guide to shells: Atlantic, gulf coasts and the west indies  which is over double the size of the other one I mentioned. 

wolfi - I just find it so unfortunate that, apparently, this particular scientific realm of study is so terribly under-represented online.  So much information, but so few people to share it!  I wish there was a way to "recruit" many more talented, knowledgeable people like yourself to the site to kick start things in the right direction.  As it stands, the place is really struggling for members Sad
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01-10-2012, 04:54 AM,
Re: Suggestions for ID sources?
Hi, wateryworld!
I think I see what you mean…… . True enough, there are lots of people with very good knowledge about molluscs, but rather few of them join in forums of the internet (some of these knowledgeable people you can meet in this forum  Wink). Most of these specialists work at Universities or at home, do their research, write papers and books, communicate with collegues, but they will never investigate their time in taking part in forum discussions. So we should be glad to have some very helpful people around here  Smile.
I’m an absolute beginner, starting in 1996 and in the last years with a focus on tropical landsnails. Up to now, I don’t know any forum specialized on this topic, so I buy some books, order or download lots of papers from 1758 up to now, but it's more or less a “one man showâ€

01-10-2012, 06:12 AM,
Re: Suggestions for ID sources?
Don't get me wrong, I'm VERY very grateful for any and all help that can be received here!  I just wish that, in this day and age where computers and the internet are such a big part of everyday life, more of these researchers would be willing to put their invaluable knowledge online for the rest of us to learn from.  In my opinion, the net is the BEST possible way for the entire world to find knowledge easily.  I think it would be great if everyone could pass the word along to anyone they know in the field that going online would be helpful!  The more the merrier!  8)

I live in Canada.  The site is giving me a "network connection was reset" error. Sad

At this point I think the encyclopedia of marine gastropods is the book I'm most interested in now.
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01-11-2012, 12:47 AM,
Re: Suggestions for ID sources?
Hi wateryworld,
firstly I would like to say that most of the people on here, myself included, are amateurs. I would also say that most, like yourself, are beginners and come here for help which is given when someone can help in any way. Your wait for a reply could just have been because no-one had an answer to your question, people are not in the habit of posting just to say "Sorry, I don't know".
This is a forum for shell collectors of all levels of expertise but maybe you just expect too much of them. This is not meant as a criticism on your part, that is the last thing I would do, but be aware most here are in the same boat as you.
There is no 'Quick fix' to identifying sea shells, it takes many years of experience before one becomes competent. There are many excellent books and websites which you can use but you NEED a basic knowledge of shell families. The Lindner book mentioned above is not much use as an identification guide but is excellent for identifying shells to family level. The Compendium of Sea Shells by Abbot and Dance is still a 'Bible' to shell collectors and even though out of print and outdated is still one of the most useful volumes. The Alain Robin volume mentioned is quite good but the downfall is is only gives the locality of the shell illustrated and no clue as to its range, so if you have a shell almost identical to one illustrated but from a different locality it is of no use as you cannot be sure it is the same species.
If you send me  P.M. or email I can give you quite a comprehensive list of shell books and websites but as I said earlier there are no shortcuts, you need a basic knowledge of shell families before you can start trying to identify any shell ad the Lindner book is just the job for that.
A few years back I was given the task of cleaning, identifying and cataloguing a huge museum collection of tens of thousands of shells of all families from all over the World. This took me several years and resulted in the purchase of many shell books, but my knowledge of shells increased exponentially, once you get going you soon find yourself becoming more familiar with shell families.
Are the shells you are working on worldwide or just American?
01-13-2012, 03:05 PM,
Re: Suggestions for ID sources?
Again, I am very grateful for the help people give here, no doubt about that!  Smile

But why do it in pm or email?  I'm sure others would also be interested to know what sites/books you would recommend!  Do share!  8)

If it is something self-collected, at the moment I am limited to the east coast of US for my upcoming trip.  Otherwise I need to buy my shells, in which case they would be from all over the world.

I'm extremely leery of buying used from third party sources, and some of the books I'm looking at getting are out of print Sad
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