Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt


Sammlung Malakologie  Frankfurt


The mollusc collection consists of both Recent and fossil Tertiary molluscs and is one of the world’s major research collections. Actually it contains about 33,000 species/subspecies of Recent molluscs and ca. 12,000 Tertiary fossil taxa. It comprises about 700.000 lots including approx. 30.000 lots of type material of which ca. 8,000 are holo- or lectotypes.
The collection, both Recent and fossil material, is systematically arranged. About 345.000 lots are catalogued, approximately 15 % of the collection is digitally registered and searches are possible through the Senckenberg collection management system  SeSam.



Prosobranchia +

Gastropoda PulmonataBivalviaothers
 Recent  ca. 13.400  ca. 14.600  ca 4.500   ca.500
 Tertiary  ca. 8.000  ca. 1.100  ca. 3.000   ca. 250
in total  ca. 21.400  ca. 15.700  ca. 7.500   ca. 750


Terrestrial Molluscs

Terrestrial and limnic molluscs make up the scientifically most important part of the collection in Frankfurt with ca. 22.000 taxa and 340.000 lots. Landsnails in particular contribute to the wordwide recognition of that collection.

Most important portions are:

Europe: Outstanding are the collections of E. A. ROSSMÄSSLER (1806-1867) with vouchers of his fundamental „Iconographie der Land- und Süßwasser-Mollusken“ (1835-1859) and of P. EHRMANN (1868-1937) with vouchers of  the "Tierwelt Mitteleuropas". The collections of W. KOBELT (1840-1916), O. BOETTGER (1844-1910) and K. L. PFEIFFER (1874-1952) are rich of vouchers for many publications on Europe, in particular Southern Europe and the Caucasian region. The collection is even rich in material from the islands of Madeira, the Canaries and the Philippines, coll. O. von MoellendorffCapverdes. The Balcans and in particular Turkey have been the main research interest of the honorary collaborator H. SCHÜTT (1923-2009) whose collection with ca. 3.000 species and appr. 17.000 lots went as a legacy to Senckenberg in 2010.

The Philippines: Thanks to the monographic works on the landsnails by O. F. v. MOELLENDORFF (1848-1903) the Senckenberg institute possesses probably the largest and most complete collection from this archipelago. With regard to the acute threat by habitat destruction this collection is of particular importance.

Asia and the Pacific region: Numerous samples from China, Japan, Indochina, the Carolines, New Guinea and the Moluccas are housed in the collection. Of particular importance are the freshwater molluscs from Thailand which form the basis of the monograph of R. BRANDT (1974).

Arabia: Still ongoing research of the honorary collaborator E. NEUBERT is making the collection of endemic landsnails from Soqotra the best of its kind.

Land and freshwater molluscs from Africa, North and South America and Hyriopsis cumingii; ChinaAustralia are represented in good numbers as well.

With regard to systematics there are several outstanding parts. One of them are freshwater mussels (Unionida) which were made one of the largest and most important collections worldwide by the works of F. HAAS (custodian 1910-1936). The samples from Europe cover nearly all European river systems. Among the rich material from North America and Asia there are many extinct or endangered species.

The Naiad Lot of the Month (NLoM)

The Clausiliidae form the largest and most specious collection worldwide. This part is being permanently enlarged in a spectacular way thanks to the research of the honorary collaborator H. NORDSIECK.  

Other collections of outstanding importance include the Cyclophoroidea Mychopoma exul, holotype; Papua New Guinea, coll. O.v.Moellendorff(operculate prosobranch landsnails), Rissooidean freshwater snails, Helicoidea, African Achatinidae and South American Bulimulidae.

The section of terrestrial and freshwater molluscs also received the collections of the following eminent authors and collectors: C.R. BOETTGER,  H.G. BRONN,   H.V. IHERING, S. H. JAECKEL, H. KALTENBACH, A. LIEBEGOTT, G. NÄGELE, H. NORDSIECK, K. L. PFEIFFER, O. REINHARDT,  W. R. SCHLICKUM,  A. ZILCH.

Marine Molluscs

Scientifically important are the molluscs from European and Arabian seas. The basic stock is formed by E. RÜPPELL’s shells from the Red Sea shells and the Mediterranean Sea. Here voucher material is contained for Kobelt’s „Iconographie der schalentragenden europäischen Meeresconchylien“ (1883-1908), several parts of the „Neues Systematisches Conchylien-Cabinet“. Another important part are samples from the Indopacific, especially from the Philippines, pertaining to various papers of O. BOETTGER. Since 1977 the collection is permanently enlarged with material collected by Senckenberg researchers and by German research vessels (Meteor, Sonne, Valdivia) as well as by the regularly conducted cruises of the FK Senckenberg to the North Sea. Important materials were brought together by two expeditions to Hainan Island (China) and several projects related to the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and Soqotra Island. The collection of F. NORDSICK (1906-1984) contains many types of European molluscs. Strombus, coll. R. von CoselIn 1990 R. v. COSEL donated his very extensive worldwide collection (ca. 4.000 species, more than 25.000 lots) with its particular focus on Caribbean material, especially from Colombia. The collection of H. G. BRONN (1800-1862) contains among others the types of one of the first publications on Japanese marine molluscs by W. DUNKER (1861). Since the 1990s molluscs from hydrothermal vents have enriched the collections. The collection of F. A. SCHILDER (1896-1970) ranges among the most important ones about cowries and related groups.

Alltogether,  marine molluscs are represented by approx. 11.000 species and 170.000 lots.

Additional important material of recent terrestrial as well as marine molluscs, among which many types, is present from: C. B. ADAMS, C. M. COOKE, H. CUMING, W. DUNKER, V. GREDLER, F. HELD, D.F. HEYNEMANN, F. KINKELIN, H. C. KÜSTER, R. LAIS, TH. MENKE, A. T. MONTEROSATO, H. NORDSIECK, P. PALLARY, L. PFEIFFER, R. A. PHILIPPI, O. V. RETOWSKI, H. ROLLE, TH. VERKRÜZEN, W. WENZ, C.A. WESTERLUND, W. K. WEYRAUCH.

Tertiary Molluscs

The collection of Tertiary molluscs with ca. 12.000 species and about 190.000 lots has its focus on the European Tertiary among which Oligocene and Neogene faunas are particularly well represented. With regard to geography and stratigraphy the most important parts are Oligocene and Miocene of the North Sea basin, the French basins (Aquitaine basin, Paris basin, Loire basin) and the Miocene of the Paratethys as well as the Neogene of the Mediterranean region. The historical stock is formed by objects which come from J. CHR. SENCKENBERG (1707-1772) and the rich materials from the neighbouring Glycymeris, Slg. J. Chr. SenckenbergMainz basin. Extraordinarily precious is the collection from the Miocene of Romania from where O. BOETTGER described more than 400 new species. Very rich are the faunas from the Tertiary of the North Sea basin with many types and vouchers to publications of J. GÖRGES, H.-J. ANDERSON, R. JANSSEN and others. Tertiary land and freshwater molluscs are well represented with many types by the collections of O. BOETTGER, K. FISCHER, W. R. SCHLICKUM and H. SCHÜTT. Since 1977 systematically conducted collections in many European Tertiary basins and rich donations of important private collections (such as of H.-J. ANDERSON, D. GRÜLL, W. LAPPANN, A. PIEHL, TH. SCHELLMANN and F. WEINBRECHT) make the Tertiary collection the largest and most species-rich stock in Germany and thus even one of the very important ones in Europe. 


Many catalogues give access to large parts of the type materials:

Type catalogues of the malacological collection

The department also holds collections of handwritings and photographs (portraits) of malacologists. It also houses an important library that includes some 35.000 titles and ca. 100 periodicals. The department is the residence of the Deutsche Malakozoologische Gesellschaft and performs the editorial work of the malacological journal "Archiv für Molluskenkunde"

Collections and the library are open to scientific users upon prior arrangement with the Head of Section.