SHELL OF THE MONTH – JANUARY 2012

The harps are among the most elegant and beautiful of all sea shells. They have a natural gloss, are finely sculptured, have detailed patterns and colored in a palette of color coordinated shades. The harps are also among the most difficult of shells to distinguish, they all look very much the same. Even the scientists who described them had trouble in recognizing them resulting in multiple names. To this day collectors and dealers remained confused as what the proper nomenclature is.

At first glance the only difference one will see is small, medium and large size, but look closer and study the details to see all that three are distinct.  The large shell is Harps major, Roding, 1798. The middle shell is Harpa harpa, Linne 1758 and the small one is a Harpa amouretta, Roding 1798.

The harps are tropical sand dwellers usually found in fairly shallow water. Most species are Indo-Pacific though one inhabits the west cost of Central America and a second the east coast of Africa.  Our three specimens come from Viet-Nam, the Philippines and Micronesia respectively. The first two are average size while the amouretta is from a dwarf population. The Harpa harpa is 60mm.

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