The Harpidae, better known as the Harp shells, encompass two rather divergent groups in the Subfamilies Harpinae, which includes the genera Harpa and Austroharpa, and the Moruminae, or Morum shells. The genus Harpa include about a dozen species with shiny, ribbed shells and rich, earthy colors. The Austroharpa tend to be more drab in coloration, with ribbed to smooth shells. The Morum were once classified in the family Cassidae, but detailed anatomical studies showed the group to be physiologically closer to the Harps. The most notible feature of the Morum are a prominent apertural shield covered with either pimpled or ribbed sculpture. The cancellate sculpture is another prominent feature. Though the total number of species in this tropical Family of mollusks is small, the showy Harpidae are extremely popular with shell collectors.
Most species in the genus Harpa are are found intertidally, whereas most of the Morum species and all of the Austroharpa live in subtidal to extremely deep water habitats. Many of these Morum and Austroharpa are quite rare, due to the inaccessible deep water habitats and limited geographical ranges. Many of the deeper water species surface as a by-product of fishing trawlers.
LITERATURE: A number of important and comprehensive monographs and books about the Harpidae have appeared over the years, probably due to the popularity of the group. · Indo-Pacific Mollusca
, Volume 3, No. 16, by Harold A. Rehder was the most comprehensive monograph about the Harpidae up to its publication date in 1973. The monograph covers both living and fossil species in the genera Harpa and Austroharpa. It does not contain Morum species since the genus was classified in the Family Cassidae at that time. Though out-of-print, this publication is occasionally available through shell book dealers. It is a must for the library of any Harpidae specialist. · Another out-of-print publications worth tracking down, especially for beginners is Conchs, Tibias, and Harps by Jerry G. Walls (T.F.H. Publications, 1980). This small format identification guide is a good introduction to the Harps (and as the title states, Strombus and Tibia as well). Distribution maps and short discussions about the Harpa and Austroharpa round out this book. · A Conchological Iconography Vol. 1. Family Harpidae by Guido Poppe, Thierry Brulet, Peter Dance and Klaus Groh (Conch Books, 1999), is a pictorial monograph illustrating numerous variations of Harps and Morum species. It is the most current publication dealing with the Harpidae. Brief write ups for each species are included. A new species from Mozambique, Morum fatimae Poppe & Brulet, 1999, is also described within. · Numerous important scientific papers published in The Nautilus (Vols. 83, 89, 95, 100, 106, among other volumes), and The Veliger contain in depth information and descriptions of new species of Morum. · Two other scientific papers are worth mentioning: Revison of the Southwest Pacific Species of Morum (Oniscidia) by A.G. Beu, J. Malac. Soc. Aust. 3(3-4) October 1976; and Remarks on some western Pacific species of Morum (Gastropoda: Tonnacea) by W.K. Emerson, Spec. Publ., S. Aust. Dept. Mines and Energy, 5:51-56, 1985 (ISBN 0 7243 7411 6), both obscure, but must-have papers for Morum specialists. · And finally, most shell books of general or regional scope include Harpidae and offer supplemental help in identifying the region-specific Harpidae species.
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