November 17, 2006 - June 14, 2007
The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, has the oldest collection of shells in the United States and the second largest catalogued shell collection in the world with more than 430,000 lots containing about 12 million specimens. Founded almost 200 years ago, the Academy's Department of Malacology, the study of mollusks, is renowned for its research in the field and in the laboratory, and for its acclaimed publications.
Today, the Department of Malacology has made great technological advancements and, as a result, has become a major resource tool. It boasts an extensive digital archive with the majority of the Academy's shells electronically catalogued and accessible to scientists, students, and amateur collectors worldwide. The department also houses a new DNA laboratory that enables malacologists to further their research on the evolution of mollusks.
Most of us know of shell collecting as an extremely popular hobby. Shells are collected for their rarity, scientific value, and more commonly, for their beauty. Many, have unbelievably detailed patterns, magnificent colors, odd textures, and unique sculptural shapes. Shells are an amazing natural phenomena that the Academy has collected, studied, documented, and preserved for the world's scientific and cultural benefit.