Diagnosis: The typhine shell is most peculiar, being characterized by the presence of a pronounced (sometimes amazingly pronounced) anal tube that does not arise from the varices, but from the inter-varical area. Only the last formed tube is functional, the others being sealed off from the inside. Similar anal tubes may be associated with the varices of other groups (Ponderia, for example) but these are considered to be independently derived and not true typhines. Many typhine species have very smooth or malleated shells giving them the appearance of being made of plastic or glass. Others are more rugose and a few are elaborately frilled. They may have quite complicated varices making it difficult to follow the ontogeny of some species.

Most are small species, usually with 4+ varices per whorl, often rather alate. Aperture entire, not split anteriorly at the siphonal canal. Spiral sculpture weakly developed, shell surface may be wrinkled, smooth, or rugose. Siphonal canal closed by the left side overlapping the right in most species. Nuclear whorls convex, smooth, 1.5-2 whorls.

Radula are a problem. They vary greatly between species and even within a single individual. 

Remarks: Some authors, noticeably D'Attilio & Hertz (1988), consider this a family apart from the Muricidae -- the Typhidae. Others, such as Vokes and Houart, include them as a muricid subfamily. No one has given a convincing reason for either scheme and I have maintained this group as a subfamily only to be consistent with the Vokesian hierarchy used throughout this site.

The "typhine" shell form has been convergently evolved independently by other muricid groups. Some typhine taxa have been removed to other subfamilies -- Cinclidotyphis is now placed in the Ergalataxinae (because it has no where else to go), and Ponderia is placed in the Muricinae, for instance. Two "typhine" subfamilies are currently recognized: Typhinae and Tripterotyphinae, further testimony to the artificial nature of the old concept of "Typhis."

The definitive work on the typhines and tripterotyphines is D'Attilio & Hertz (1988).

Most species are quite rare.

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