1.8 Million Mollusk Specimens

by Jodi Weigand

No one will mistake the 1.8 million mollusk specimens at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History for Easter eggs. But to Timothy Pearce, they're just as special. He became curator of the 15th largest mollusk collection in the U.S. six years ago and has kept a watchful eye over shells "as colorful as Easter eggs" to those that are as mud-colored as the dirt where they were found. Mollusks, for those who don't know, are invertebrates usually enclosed in a shell. Visitors don't get to see most of the museum's collection, aside from a small display opposite the bird exhibit. Although knowledgeable about most mollusks, Pearce's specialty is land snails, and he's traveled all over the world collecting species. Unlike his specimens, Pearce showed a little backbone by sitting down with Trib p.m.

Question: Why snails?

Answer: Because they're awesome, that's why. While many people love snails at some point in their lives and then grow out of it, I just didn't grow out of it. I remember finding live snails and painting numbers on them, then letting them go and coming back to see how far they'd gone.

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