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Malacology[1] is the branch of invertebrate zoology that deals with the study of the Mollusca (mollusks or molluscs), the second-largest phylum of animals in terms of described species[2] after the arthropods. Mollusks include snails and slugs, clams, octopus and squid, and numerous other kinds, many of which have shells. One division of malacology, conchology, is devoted to the study of mollusk shells. Malacology derives from Greek μαλακός, malakos, "soft"; and -λογία, -logia.

Fields within malacological research include taxonomy, ecology and evolution. Applied malacology studies medical, veterinary, and agricultural applications, for example mollusks as vectors of disease, as in schistosomiasis.

Archaeology employs malacology to understand the evolution of the climate, the biota of the area, and the usage of the site.

In 1681, Filippo Bonanni wrote the first book ever published that was solely about seashells, the shells of marine mollusks.[3] The book was entitled: Ricreatione dell' occhio e dela mente nell oservation' delle Chiociolle, proposta a' curiosi delle opere della natura, &c.[4] In 1868, the German Malacological Society was founded.

Zoological methods are used in malacological research. Malacological field methods and laboratory methods (such as collecting, documenting and archiving, and molecular techniques) were summarized by Sturm et al. (2006).[5]


Those who study malacology are known as malacologists. Those who study primarily or exclusively the shells of mollusks are known as conchologists.


  • American Malacological Society
  • Association of Polish Malacologists (Stowarzyszenie Malakologów Polskich)
  • Belgian Malacological Society (Société Belge de Malacologie) – French speaking
  • Belgian Society for Conchology (Belgische Vereniging voor Conchyliologie) – Dutch speaking
  • Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland
  • Conchologists of America
  • Dutch Malacological Society (Nederlandse Malacologische Vereniging)
  • Estonian Malacological Society (Eesti Malakoloogia Ühing)
  • European Quaternary Malacologists
  • Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society
  • German Malacological Society (Deutsche Malakozoologische Gesellschaft)
  • Hungarian Malacological Society Magyar Malakológiai Társaság
  • Italian Malacological Society (Società Italiana di Malacologia)
  • Malacological Society of Australasia
  • Malacological Society of London
  • Malacological Society of the Philippines, Inc.
  • Mexican Malacological Society (Sociedad Mexicana de Malacología y Conquiliología)[6]
  • Spanish Malacological Society (Sociedad Española de Malacología)
  • Western Society of Malacologists
  • Brazilian Malacological Society (Sociedade Brasileira de Malacologia)[7]


More than 150 journals within the field of malacology are being published from more than 30 countries, producing an overwhelming amount of scientific articles.[8] They include:


Museums that have either exceptional malacological research collections (behind the scenes) and/or exceptional public exhibits of mollusks:

See also

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