5 minutes with Darryl Potter, Collection Manager, Biodiversity (Mollusca)

Today’s #CouchCurator is Collection Manager, Biodiversity (Mollusca) Darryl Potter who is sharing some of his favourite items from the Collection.

What is your favourite object/species in the collection and why?

Not just one, rather difficult to pinpoint (like what’s your favourite song amongst numerous genres.)

1) Various species of Australian Land Snails (camaenids, caryodids, helicarionids, etc) – eg Giant Panda Snail.

2) Various species of Indo-West Pacific Marine Snails (Murex, Cowries, Cones, Helmets, etc) – eg Giant Murex Shell.

Do you have any interesting facts about your specialty area?

  • I am co-author of ‘Shells of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef’ – 1987 Book
  • I am co-author of the guidebooks… ‘Australian Land Snails – Vol 1’ (2010) & ‘Australian Land Snails – Vol 2’ (2018)
  • Biggest – Giant Squid (Architeuthis), collection item but housed in glycerol on Level 2
  • Smallest – Discocharopa pinwheel snail (various specimens to choose from in collection)
  • Mega-lot of Flat-coiled Snails (Pedinogyra) in land snail collection
  • Weirdest – Watering pot clams (bivalve species, Clavagellids)
  • Rarest – Prince Cowrie (Leporicypraea valentia) from Torres Strait (most specimens from Papua New Guinea North)
  • Most common – various species of common limpets (eg Cellana tramoserica), cowries (eg Monetaria annulus) and sand snails (eg Conuber sordidum).
Queensland Museum Collection Manager Darryl Potter with a preserved specimen of a Southern Giant Squid, Architeuthis sanctipauli.
© Queensland Museum, Jeff Wright

I estimate that there are _ species waiting to be formally described in my area…

800 to possibly 1000 species of undescribed Australian land snails.

Possibly thousands of marine gastropods and bivalves, particularly when accounting for the micro-species…

Tell us a little bit about your area and why do you love working in this specific research area?

Molluscs are a fascinating group of creatures because of their variety of shape and form and their range of habitats exploited on this planet. Spectacular shells with stunning patterns, dazzling colourful sea slugs & nudibranchs, diverse bivalves from giant clams to estuarine mussels, swift-swimming squid & venomous octopuses, etc. There is always something to learn working with these animals and educating the public about them. Through publications I with my colleagues have been able to document the fauna and describe new species.

What is your favourite thing about your role at the museum? Why?

My role allows me to impart valuable knowledge to other professionals and the public about molluscs. Databasing molluscan species records, performing IDs via the Discovery Centre, interviews via radio & TV, inquiries from Government bodies etc plus publishing on native molluscs have all benefited me and (I hope) the Queensland/Australian public.

What is one of the most interesting facts you have discovered through working at the museum?

Many species of Australian native snails which were once thought to be widespread have been discovered to have more limited distributions. Thus, these ‘species’ have turned out to be groups of similar species likely with a common ancestor in their evolutionary lineage.

What is your favourite gallery/exhibition at the museum (current or past) and why?

Wild State – shows a huge diversity of Australian wildlife in five different ecosystem settings. This allows the public to experience vastly different land/sea scapes & their respective creatures. Often people may know some of Australia’s native fauna but not be aware of the exact eco-regions they inhabit.

Learn more

Interested in learning more about Darryl Potter? View his profile here.