Mollusks at Carnegie Museum of Natural History
The molluscan collection at Carnegie Museum of Natural History is the 13th largest in North America. The collection contains representatives of six of the seven Recent molluscan classes, Gastropoda, Bivalvia, Cephalophoda, Polyplacophora, Scaphopoda, and Solenogastres, with particular strengths in the Gastropoda and Bivalvia.
The Section of Mollusks Collection
The Section of Mollusks collection at Carnegie Museum of Natural History contains specimens that are valuable to researchers both locally and worldwide. The collection boasts more terrestrial and freshwater mollusks from western Pennsylvania and adjacent states than any other museum and is especially strong in North American freshwater mussels (Unionoida), fingernail and pea clams (Sphaeriidae), terrestrial gastropods, and freshwater gastropods. Although the collection contains primarily recent specimens, it also contains a notable number of Cenozoic fossil specimens, some of which are type specimens.
The majority of specimens are preserved dry, but there are fluid-preserved specimens as well, including soft parts of some now-extinct mollusks. Most of the type specimens are terrestrial gastropods and freshwater bivalves (primarily Sphaeriidae) from North and South America, with many additional terrestrial gastropods from Japan and the Pacific Islands, as well as some marine mollusks. The collection also contains a number of rare and extinct species of mollusks.
Section of Mollusks Collection Inquiries
The Section of Mollusks collection database is currently maintained within the museum. For any inquiries about specimens of taxonomic groups or from geographical areas in the collection, collection questions, or requests to visit the collection, please contact the assistant curator of Mollusks. Normal working hours for visits are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m., though special arrangements may be made for visitors requiring extended hours.
Research requests to borrow specific specimens may also be made and are granted at the discretion of the assistant curator of the Section of Mollusks. Specimen loans are typically made to permanent staff at universities and museums; loans to students are typically made in care of their advisors who are responsible for the loan. Any destructive sampling of the specimens such as dissection, tissue sampling (e.g., for molecular studies), radula studies, or shell chemistry studies must be approved in writing in advance. All parts remaining after such sampling must be returned. At the time the loan is returned, we request confirmation of identifications or re-identifications. Please acknowledge Carnegie Museum of Natural History as the source of the material. We request copies of any publications resulting from the study of the loaned material. We especially appreciate when catalog numbers are mentioned in publications.
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Behind-the-Scenes Tour in Mollusks
Get a fascinating behind-the-scenes peek at scientists in action, and see some of the millions of research specimens in the collection. Check the visitor guide on the day of your visit for more information. From octopuses to oysters, get an up-close look at the weird and wonderful collection of mollusks. Tours are usually available on the second Saturday of each month with tours available every half hour from 1–3 p.m. Contact Tim Pearce to verify availability.