A superfamily of comparatively large to small neogastropods. All species are scavengers or predators, occurring from tidal environments to great depths.
The earliest records of the subfamily date back to the Late Cretaceous.
After the recent study by Kantor et al. (2017), the Olivoidea are nowadays considered to contain five families, the Olividae, the Ancillariidae, the Benthobiidae, the Bellolividae and the Pseudolividae. The former family Olivellidae is now considered to be a subfamily of the Olividae (Olivellinae). The main shell characters and present day distribution are summarised below:
Families in the Olivoidea (characters after Kantor et. al., 2017)
Worldwide, generally in tropical and warm-temperate waters, with only few species in cold-temperate waters at high latitudes.
Operculum present. Periostracum present.. Primary spire callus limited to inner lip. Suture adpressed or broadly channelled (Zemira).
Tropical Atlantic realm (Gulf of Guinea province); genera Luizia, Pseudoliva. Temperate Southern Africa realm (Agulhas province); genus Pseudoliva. Temperate Australasia realm (temperate waters of southern Australia); genus Zemira.
Operculum present. Periostracum absent. Primary spire callus absent. Narrow filament channel present, opened on all spire whorls.
Western Indo-Pacific realm. Central Indo-Pacific realm. Eastern Indo-Pacific realm. Tropical Atlantic realm.
Operculum present. Periostracum absent. Primary spire callus well defined. Suture always overlaid by the callus.
Circum-tropical and warm-temperate waters but favouring regions with upwelling, nutrient-rich, colder water. Seemingly lacking in the Tropical Eastern Pacific realm. Micrancilla Maxwell, 1992, between the Falklands and South Georgia (Temperate South America realm, Cold-temperate Magellanic province).