Australian Museum Malacology Collection

Malacology is the study molluscs including chitons, clams, mussels, snails, nudibranchs (sea slugs), tusk shells, octopus and squid.

Giant clam spawning near Lizard Island

Lyle Vail and Anne Hoggett © Australia Museum

Molluscs are animals that have:

  • an unsegmented soft body
  • an internal or external shell (most species but not all)
  • a mantle (fold in the body wall that lines the shell)
  • a muscular foot and/or tentacles

About the Collection

The Australian Museum Malacology collection is one of the world's largest of its kind, covering all groups of recent (up to 1.6 million year old) and tertiary (65-1.6 million year old) molluscs. Many of the specimens are dry shells, but there is also a large collection of preserved molluscs. The collections date from the 1860s and include marine, terrestrial and freshwater molluscs. They are predominantly from Australia and the south-west Pacific, but also include specimens from other parts of the world.

The Malacology type collection is extensive and includes a large number of primary types (types are the original specimens on which the first description of a particular species or subspecies is based).


Alison Miller , Technical Officer, Malacology
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