A genus of medium-sized to larged ancillariids nowadays mainly confined to cold temperate and warm temperate waters of New Zealand and southern Australia (Temperate Australasia realm, Northern New Zealand province, Southern New Zealand province, Southwest Australian Shelf province to West Central Australian Shelf province), Japan and Taiwan (Temperate Northern Pacific realm, Cold Temperate Northwest Pacific province, Warm Temperate Northwest Pacific province) and South Africa (Temperate Southern Africa realm, Agulhas province). Also known from tropical waters in the Central Indo-Pacific realm: Okinawa (South Kuroshio province), New Caledonia (Tropical Southwestern Pacific realm).
Although frequently considered to be a junior synonym or subgenus of Amalda Adams & Adams, 1853, that genus is confined to the tropical waters of northern South America (Tropical Atlantic realm, Tropical Northwestern Atlantic province, North Brazil Shelf province) and the warm temperate waters of Brazil (Temperate South America realm, Warm Temperate Southwestern Atlantic province).
Heavy broad shells with low conic spire. Thick, tongue-shaped callus pad extending over body whorl.
Beu (1970) summarised the fossil taxa of New Zealnd and discussed the status of the genus-group taxa, leading to Baryspira with Gracilispira and Spinaspira considered to be subgenera.
Similarly, a lineage of Baryspira is recognised from the Aquitaine Basin, France (Late Oligocene to Miocene) and the western Paratethys. Although it has been suggested that this lineage originates in the Eocene of the Loire Basin, France (Chavan & Fischer, 1939, suggested that Ancillaria douvillei Vasseur, 1882, may be ancestral), the earliest confirmed record seems to be Volutites anomalus Schlotheim, 1820, from the Chattian, Oligocene, of the Aquitaine Basin. That species, in turn, seems to be the presursor of Ancillaria glandiformis Lamarck, 1811, from the Lower Miocene of the Aquitaine Basin. Both taxa also belong to the Gemaspira type.