Type Specimens: Digitising the Mollusca type specimens from the UK and Ireland (2016-2023)

by Jana Horak

5 min read

Nomenclatural ‘types’ are the treasures of any natural science collection and are constantly sought out by researchers. Many museum curators are spread across several natural science disciplines and lack the skills or resources to attend to type research and curation, and such specimens risk being ‘lost’ to the international scientific community.

Specialist malacological curators from Amgueddfa Cymru -National Museum Wales (ACNMW) and the Natural History Museum, London, funded by the John Ellerman Foundation are developing a jointly held, universally accessible resource connecting the Mollusca type specimens of national and regional UK museums for the first time.

Staff at seven UK partner museums, lacking a malacological curator, were trained to recognise, research, database and interpret the molluscan type specimens in their collections. The website was launched with over 700 type specimens fully researched and imaged gbmolluscatypes.ac.uk. A further 450 types from the ACNMW collections and 500 records from three partner museums were added, exceeding the goal to cover primary types alone.

A second phase of funding has allowed the inclusion of Ireland, and the site renaming as Mollusca Types in Britain & Ireland, involving 10 further collections including those in Belfast and Dublin, and adding further biographical details on collectors. This work is ongoing and is due to be completed in 2023.