Shell Feast for the Eyes

The Academy’s Malacology Collection dates back to the institution’s founding in 1812, when one of its founders donated a box of shells and madrepores (reef-building corals).

Since then, the shell collection has grown considerably and now occupies more than 250 cabinets containing more than 13,000 drawers and 10 million specimens, together weighing more than 55 tons. The collection represents every region of the world and is a priceless resource for scientists in many disciplines.

It is fully searchable online through the Academy’s web site,, and more than 5,000 of the scientifically most important specimens can be viewed as high-definition images on any web browser.

In this digital picture story the Academy contributed to Google Arts & Culture titled Amazing Shells of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, is a sampling of the oldest shell collection in the U.S. — a beautiful feast for the eyes. Click the story link to enjoy nature’s amazing bounty.

Horned Helmet Shell, Cassis cornuta
Venus Comb Shell, Murex pecten
Atlantic Thorny Oyster, Spondylus americanus
Quadras’s Amphidromus, Amphidromus quadrasi

Images by Paul Callomon. Text by Carolyn Belardo.

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