Mollusc (Malacology) Section

Collections | Updated 2 weeks ago

The Western Australian Museum's Mollusc Collection represents molluscs collected from Western Australia, other parts of Australia, and from the wider world. The collection consists of approximately 300,000 lots.

Molluscs are typically soft-bodied, unsegemented invertebrates that possess an anterior head (at the front of the body), a muscular ventral foot (located near the abdomen) which is used to move, with their organs (visceral mass) located at the back of the body and covered by a fleshy mantle.

In most molluscan groups the mantle secretes a hard shell. Many molluscs have a rasp-like radula ribbon on a muscular "tongue", which is used to tear up food and draw it into the mouth.

The Mollusc Collection comprises of two major sections: marine molluscs and non-marine molluscs.

The emphasis of the marine mollucs section is on Western Australian molluscan species, with most of the marine collection collected from the southern temperate to northern tropical (Indo-West Pacific) areas of the WA coast.

The marine collection consists of representatives from the diverse families of marine seashells, bivalves and seaslugs, and also contains many records from various parts of the world, particularly from the Indo-West Pacific region.

The marine molluscan fauna of Western Australia is one of the world's largest but least-studied. At present, over 2000 species of marine molluscs are known to occur in Western Australian waters, with nearly 10% of these being endemic to our coast.

The non-marine mollusc collection (freshwater and terrestrial molluscs) is equally important and is also poorly known.

Approximately 500 non-marine mollusc species have been described from Western Australia. Given the large area of the state and its climatic and geological diversity, this figure is certain to increase considerably as this group is studied in more detail. This is particularly the case with the diverse and highly endemic land snail families - the Camaenidae and Bulimulidae.

There are over 340 Holotype specimens in the Mollusc collection - a large portion of which are land snails and opisthobranchs (a marine mollusc characterised by two pairs of tentacles and a single gill behind and to the right of the heart).

Follow our land mollusc blog.

Number of items
Approximately 300,000 lots