Mollusk Department

The Museum's mollusk collection consists of more than 2 million specimens, making it one of the top ten in the United States. The 220,000 cataloged lots represent more than 18,000 species. Worldwide in scope and covering all seven living classes of mollusks, our holdings comprise marine Gastropoda (50%), land and freshwater Gastropoda (25%), marine Bivalvia (15%), and freshwater Bivalvia (5%). The Museum's mollusk collection has both dry and alcohol preserved specimens. Most specimens are recent, however there is some Cenozoic fossil material. Our type collection contains more than 1,200 lots. Type catalogs listing all molluscan type specimens (except Pulmonata) are available in Nemouria issues 36 and 41.

John E. du Pont's original shell collections as well as other acquisitions have increased the collection's size and scientific value. The Museum's collection continues to grow through research activities of staff and through donations of scientifically significant specimens.

Liz Shea, Ph.D., brought this
Histioteuthis bonellii specimen
to the Museum from the Atlantic
Ocean off the coast of Nova Scotia

Elizabeth Shea, Ph.D., the Curator of Mollusks research focuses is on deep-sea cephalopods of Bear Seamount. In addition to the deep-sea project, Liz will be looking at the distribution and life history of Lolliguncula brevis in the Delaware Bay. Liz attended the Cephalopod International Advisory Council (CIAC) meeting in Hobart, Australia where she served as the post-doc representative to the council. 

Marine Mollusks of Bermuda: Checklist and Bibliography
- The only complete listing of Bermuda's marine mollusks, this book will allow scientists and shell collectors to determine the correct name from among the numerous synonyms for the more than 770 species of mollusks occurring in and around the waters of Bermuda. Includes color photos of species never before illustrated, as well as noteworthy shells including many colorful sea slugs. The book is authored by the late Russell Jensen, DMNH Mollusk Department 1971-2001, and Tim Pearce, Ph.D., Curator of Mollusks at DMNH from 1996-2001. Publication expected in 2009. More information.

Mollusk Type Collection - The Delaware Museum of Natural History has about 1,200 type specimens from the Phylum Mollusca.  This collection is accessible to researchers and the public by emailing Nasreen Aziz at

Delmarva Land Snails
– From 1997 to 2001 former DMNH Curator of Mollusks Dr. Tim Pearce conducted research on the land snails of Delmarva: resolving their taxonomy, producing an atlas showing snail distributions, and developing a key to aid in their identification. The Delmarva land snail project (funded by the National Science Foundation) will result in a better understanding of the distribution of snails and slugs on the Delmarva Peninsula. It will produce maps having more than 50 times greater resolution than previous maps.

Further information about the collection and requests for data or loans should be directed to:

Nasreen Aziz
Collection Manager of Mollusks
laware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
P.O. Box 3937
Wilmington, DE 19807-0937
302-658-9111, ext. 311

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