Tag Archives: Molluscs

Marvellous Molluscs – Part 2

Dr John Healy is Curator of Molluscs at Queensland Museum and is actively involved with research on molluscs (malacology).

Dr John Healy

As John notes, the role of Curator of Molluscs covers many and varied activities. This includes taxonomic work on the collections, field work, identification of samples, public inquiries and even work on cultural and historical aspects of shell use and art through the ages. John has been extensively involved in taxonomic work on Australian Molluscs, and has named over 80 species new to science, including numerous bivalves and tusk shells.

In association with the Dr Nerida Wilson of the Australian Museum, John is also working on the evolutionary relationships and classification of volute snails – a family of marine molluscs that has no planktonic stage in their life cycle. (The eggs of many other marine molluscs hatch into a planktonic stage that can move with the currents and establish the species in other areas.) Volutes are direct developers and as such are vulnerable to local extinctions if they are over-collected or if their habitat is substantially damaged. There are few individuals from other areas than can come in and re-colonise the area.

Beautiful bivalve, Spondylus versicolor

Many molluscs are named by the structure and colour of their shell alone, especially if the shell is distinctive enough. John notes that this can give rise to a bit of a dilemma: some species may be named but they could in fact be extinct. There have been some species of molluscs discovered and named in the recent past, for which no living specimen has ever been seen – only their shell!

The Argonaut ‘shell’ looks a little bit like a fossil ammonite – John draws attention to some similarities to true shells of the ammonite genus Scaphites – and some scientists believe that octopods may even be ammonites. However, the differences in shell structure are profound, suggesting the Argonaut ‘shell’ has developed independently of the chambered ammonite (and nautilus) true shells.

To learn more about the marvellous world of Molluscs, visit the Mollusc page of our QM website.

To learn more about the work that John does, visit his Biography page.

To learn more about animal adaptations, view our Animal Adaptation Videos.

Marvellous Molluscs – Part 1

Darryl Potter is the Collection Manager for both Molluscs and Crustaceans at Queensland Museum.

Darryl is involved in collecting, identifying, labelling, and storing specimens from the animal groups of Molluscs (snails, bivalves, chitons, squid and octopuses) and Crustaceans (crabs, shrimps, lobsters, barnacles, etcetera). He also maintains the database that stores information about these collections.

Darryl Potter

Darryl has accompanied other QM scientists, such as Peter Davie (Senior Curator of Crustacea), Jeff Johnson (Collection Manager of Ichthyology) and Dr John Healy (Curator of Molluscs) on many expeditions that involved inter-tidal trips and scuba diving in the beautiful waters off the Queensland and northern New South Wales coasts.

Over recent months, Darryl and QM scientists have been busy compiling the revamped QM publication, Wild Guide to Moreton Bay and Adjacent Coasts, Vol 1 & 2. The book is authored by Peter Davie and several other QM scientists, and includes magnificent photography from QM photographers Gary Cranitch and Jeff Wright.

To purchase the book, follow this link to Wild Guide to Moreton Bay and Adjacent Coasts.

Darryl’s area of expertise includes land snails and marine gastropods (one-shelled molluscs such as snails and slugs). Darryl and three other colleagues have recently published the first volume of a guide to Australian land snails which is based on 20 years of fieldwork conducted across Queensland, coastal New South Wales, Cape York and the Torres Strait. The second volume is under production and will be based on snails found in the more arid and semi-arid zones of Australia. Already there are 800 species that have been documented for inclusion in this volume.

Follow this link to purchase Australian Land Snails Volume 1: a field guide to eastern Australian species.

Last week, Darryl was collecting specimens from Nudgee Beach and some of the specimens are shown below. He is now in the process of identifying, labelling and cataloguing these species.

Specimens from Nudgee Beach checked against Wild Guide book

An interesting recent QM acquisition is the Diamondback Squid that appears in the image below.

Diamondback Squid, Thysanoteuthis rhombus

This squid is the largest cephalopod species to be collected from the waters off Moreton Bay. Its name comes from the characteristic diamond-shaped fin which extends along the length of the body. The arms have two rows of suckers and there are wide protective webs along their length. They can grow up to a metre in length and weigh as much as 30 kilograms.

To find out more about magnificent molluscs and crustaceans, visit the Mollusc and Crustaceans section of our website.

To read more about Darryl’s work, visit his Biography page.