Mollusca

With approximately 5 million items, the Mollusca collection is the second largest in the Museum für Naturkunde. It contains considerable dry and alcohol collections covering all groups of molluscs, including historically valuable material and over numerous type samples

An extremely diverse Animal Phylum
With approximately 110,000 species, molluscs are one of the most diverse phyla in the animal kingdom, surpassed only by arthropods. Their origins date back to the Cambrian 550 million years ago. This is where the fossil record begins, the first shells being limpet-like. Coiled shells developed later. Molluscs now live in the sea, in fresh water and on land.
The collection contains substantial dry and alcohol collections covering all groups of molluscs, as well as countless relevant books and special prints.

It contains approximately

  • 57,000 catalogued items (approx. 60 Aplacophora, approx. 650 Polyplacophora, approx. 50,000. Gastropoda, approx. 540 Cephalopoda, approx. 6,500 Bivalvia and approx. 250 Scaphopoda)
  • 4,000. type specimens

Stored as

  • 20 percent alcohol vials
  • 80 percent dry preparations
  • 500 microscope slides

Systematic Display of Collection
The collection is displayed according to systematic principles and has been well documented through historical entry catalogues and digital databases. It is available in its entirety for scientific use. It is essentially the work of Karl Eduard von Martens (1831-1904), who compiled it from 1850s until his death in 1904. By the end of the 1930s, the main catalogue comprised 100,000 entries. The number of entries to the inventory has been rising ever since.

Important Collectors
Important collectors include:

  • Karl Eduard von Martens (1831-1904)
  • Johannes Thiele, Bernhard Rensch
  • Wilhelm Dunker (1809-1885)
  • Friedrich Paetel (1812-1888)
  • F. Arnold
  • H. Kolasius
  • C.A.E. Krausp
  • H. Rolle
  • F.A. Schilder
  • H.A. Schmidt
  • Friedrich Dahl
  • Karl August Möbius


A large proportion of the collection material comes from the German "Valdivia" Deep Sea Expedition (1898-1899) and the German South Polar Expedition (1901-1899).

Last update: 10.10.2014