Calvert Marine Museum acquires rare fossil seashell collection

Extremely well documented micro fossils, all individually identified and labeled.

SOLOMONS, Md. – A recent trip to Okeechobee, Florida by the Calvert Marine Museum’s paleontologists and summer interns resulted in the acquisition of a rare, one-of-a-kind shell collection for the Calvert Marine Museum. The collection’s 12 cabinets and 178 drawers include over 15,000 shells collected and carefully documented by Richard Duerr and Phyllis Diegel. Fossils include clams, snails, sea urchins, starfish, crabs, and coral.

The couple were scientists that shared a passion for fossil hunting and their life’s work covered over five decades of collecting. Their finds include old and modern fossil shells from up and down the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. They are from the Miocene, Pliocene, and Pleistocene Epochs dating back as far as 23 million years. Mining regulations require phosphate pits to be reclaimed immediately, so fossil collecting is now more restricted in the state of Florida. 

Photo Right: Contraconus tryoni – A very large cone snail from Florida

“The preservation of these shells is amazing and astonishing and we are thrilled that our collection now encompasses the east coast of North America,” said John Nance, collections manager at the Calvert Marine Museum. The shells will allow paleontologists to study and learn more about the diversity of the fossils, and the ecosystems that existed millions of years ago.

For more information, please contact John Nance at 410-326-2042, ext. 40 or email

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