Finding Conidae Information on the Web


In order to assist anyone who is developing an interest in Conidae, we have made some suggestions of the material to be found on the internet. One of the challenges in using  sources of information on the web is for the user to reflect and consider the quality and accuracy of the information.


The only correct information is primary material i.e. the original description of the species and the associated figure or the type specimen. The material must meet documentation standards set by the ICZN organisation. The scientific record is then considered to be updated. For those of you who like to read the rules fully then a web search on www. will find the ICZN website.


Experienced authors will review subgroups of Conidae and publish articles and books in which they propose changes. Often the original description was not sufficient and will be expanded or clarified but such material is an opinion and not primary scientific material. They will also conclude that two original descriptions reflect the same shell and propose that the scientific record be changed. These changes to the taxonomy lead to the many synonyms found in Conidae today.  


Alan Kohn received scientific funding to establish a website which contains or provides links to primary materials. Since 2009, scientific priorities have changed and it is no longer funded.


The Conus Biodiversity website  The site was developed by Alan Kohn and Trevor Anderson.  The main feature is a searchable database containing a catalogue of all available species and subspecies names proposed in Conus (including names for fossil species).  The site includes entries for 3,253 available names published between 1758 and 2009.  Each entry includes the citation of the original description if it is in the public domain (pre-1940). Many entries include photographic images of primary type specimens, pdf copies of original descriptions, literature records of fossils, and links to sequences of genes reported to GenBank.


In 2001 Mike Filmer published his book on the Taxonomy and Nomenclature of Living Conidae and a 2008 update was privately published. In it,  Mike listed every name published together with information on the original publication where the type specimen was deposited, plus his own opinion on the taxonomy. Today, you will find Filmer 2012 on the Cone Collector website. It has been extended to include pictures of the type specimens and is kept up to date as new publications reflect changes. The Cone Collector website does not form part of the scientific record.


Recently, a number of other websites have made complete publications available on the internet. Many of the classic shell books with cone sections can be found (e.g. Linnaeus, Roding, Lamarck, Reeve, Kiener, Sowerby, etc.) making it easier to gain access to original cone descriptions and the colour plates with the original figures. Some descriptions published in these classic works are original descriptions and also proposed taxonomy changes but in addition there are revised descriptions plus new figures of names published previously by others, which should be treated as opinions or secondary material.


Try searching for older publications in which contains many pre-Linnaeus works and older literature.


Internet Archive website It contains a collection of digital libraries with wider content than collections focused on zoology. 


Biodiversity Heritage website which contains many classic 19th century works with original cone descriptions and long (or complete) runs of major journals.


Gallica website It contains broad content in many fields, but also contains many works by French authors on the cones.


Google Books can also be a useful source of complete works using their advanced search and full view search parameters.


All the editions of two magazines which contributed to the scientific record over many years can be found on the internet. Rossiniana and Hawaiian Shell News.


How do you get more pictures of specimens to assist with identification?

In using such websites, you are reminded that the identification is a matter of opinion and you should check the type specimen as a priority. 


The website  a non commercial website run by Eddie Hardy, an experienced collector, illustrates pictures from museums and private collections for most species.


Giancarlo Paganelli, an experienced Italian collector provides information on cones and pictures of specimens from his wide collection at his website


The Cone Collector does not provide information on commercial dealer specimen websites. However, some major dealers provide an encyclopedia which comprises all the shells that they have sold over a number of years, others just the specimens for immediate sale. You will also find a wide range of cone pictures on the cone auction websites. The quality of identification of specimens varies greatly and it is always wise to check identifications against several sources.