Cephalopod Museum Curator

Mark Carnall

Blue Ring
Jun 28, 2016
Hello all I look after the zoology collections at Oxford University Museum of Natural History including all animals and of course cephalopods.

I've been a lurker for many years but felt keen to sign up after watching the full TONMO VI stream.

I'm keen on improving our knowledge of cephalopod in museums as there's no great global list even for type specimens! I'm also really shocked how small the cephalopod science community is which is why tentacles and arms often get confused in the media!
:cuttlehi: @Mark Carnall. I have often looked for holotype descriptions and find only the describing taxonomist name and year described with no reference as to where to find the description. When there is an entry, tolweb.org has some excellent information and photos but the number of entries is extremely limited and those that do exist do not contain the holotype descriptions. I know it makes matters even more difficult when dealing with preserved octopuses because the dead animals do not retain color and often markings (like eyespots or skin patterns).

In spite of the frustrations, I envy your job :biggrin2:
It's a sorry state and there aren't even that many of them! I wrote a blog post recently about citing museum specimens properly and I mention the type description of Loligo banksii as 'useless'.

There is a now out of date publications, Classification, Type Localities, and Type Repositories of Recent Cephalopoda by Sweeney and Roper from 1998. GBIF dtat is fairly good for the group though.

The real issue is the lack of expertise when it comes to this group and the (tens) of thousands of specimens which are in smaller museums.
Yes they're great summaries although already need some updating. Nice illustrations. I tried to track down hard copy versions but they sell for hundreds/thousands of pounds!

PDFs will have to do.
I'm currently working through museum collections, and am finding many preserved cephs with vague names or descriptions, so I definitely feel your pain. Saw one yesterday which was called "Long skinny thing". At some point along the way, someone had figured out it was a squid and put it on the right shelf. :smile:
@GPO87 I feel your pain. I know that fluid preserved cephs can be tricky to identify after preservation but it seems that, in some instances, nobody really tried in the first place.

Out of interest, what are you looking for? Maybe we have specimens in Oxford that would be of interest?
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