Connecting the environment of the ancient past with the natural and cultural history of yesterday and today.



The Nature of Shells

Chlamys senatorius scallop

Displayed at the Falls of the Ohio State Park in 2006

Explore the wonder of the shell.

This exhibit focuses on the natural history of shelled organisms with over a dozen exhibits.

Click on each exhibit topic to learn more. Click on small photos for a larger image.


 Pachydiscus ammmonite in cross-section

What is a shell?


The American Heritage Dictionary definition:

“The usually hard outer covering that encases certain organisms, such as mollusks, insects, and turtles…”


This exhibit explores shells and how they connect with the history of life on Earth.

One of the display cases in the Nature of Shells exhibit

The nature of mollusk shells


The nature of brachiopod shells


The nature of arthropod shells


The nature of turtle shells


The nature of egg shells


The nature of other shelled creatures


How long have shells been around?


What are shells made of?


How are shells adapted for their environment?


What are the smallest and largest shells?


How many shells in sediment?


The Beauty of Shells


The Living Shell


This exhibit was developed by Interpretive Naturalist Alan Goldstein. We would like to thank the following lenders of specimens for the original exhibit and permission to post the images here.


  • Children’s Museum of Indiana
  • Louisville Science Center (now Kentucky Science Center)
  • Anonymous collection

shells on display


Created April 8, 2015, Updated June 2.