Archive Contents

Digital Archives of Malacofauna from Taiwan

Project Leader¡GWen-Lung Wu

Executing organization: Biodiversity Research Center, Academia Sinica

Archives Description¡G

1.Mollusks have been utilized by humans in numerous ways for thousands of years. Many species of shells have been modified into ornaments, tools, money, etc. Shell remains in archaeological sites attest to the use of flesh as food or bait and to the use of pearls. Shells have also been used as fill and building material, burial layers, and containers; they have been treated to extract their pigments; cut up for inlay, cameos, buttons, beads, trinkets, and pearl nuclei; and ground up for pottery temper, poultry feed, medicine, and fertilizer. There are many shell midden or shell matrix sites in Taiwan such as Taipei Yenshan Midden, Taipei Shihsanhang Shell-left, Ilan Chiwulan Shell matrix, the Central Taiwan Science Park and the Southern Science Park. Archaeologists have been interested in shell artifacts and shell matrix sites for over 200 years. The Malacology Lab in the Biodiversity Research Center of Academia Sinica has identified when the shells, shell-tools, and even fossil shells were harvested; and it has integrated all the data into the Taiwan Malacofauna Database and Website.

2.This project annually integrates shell specimens inventory data and shell-related information. The integrated Taiwan Malacofauna Database contains living mollusk as well as pre-history shell information and can be used to monitor the impact on human life from environmental changes.

3.Through the phylogeny study of Taiwan mollusks, some taxonomical changes are expected to happen anytime. The Taiwan Malacofauna Database and Website will be updated to reflect the latest changes and information.


The Taiwan Malacofauna Database includes the following sub-databases: (1) The Catalogue database: Basic information with photos of each species; (2) The Distribution database: Through the website, users can seek the shell distribution data in the Taiwan area; (3) The Bibliographic database; (4) The Curatorial database: One can inquire about the approximately 10,000 lots and more than 2,000 species of mollusks inventory at the Malacology Laboratory, Biodiversity Research Center, Academia Sinica (GIS data are also included); (5) The Chinese shell names of the world shells: The Chinese names of 4,200 common species in the world are provided for promoting the unification of Chinese molluscan names; (6) The New species and new records of shell database: More than 200 new species have been reported from Taiwan waters since 1960; (7) Microarchitecture and radulae of mollusks; (8) The Shell midden database; (9)The Shell fossil database; (10) The World ShellBase; (11) The Miscellaneous.

Accomplished Archives¡G

The major result is "The Taiwan Malacofauna Database" website. There are more than 4,600 shell photos in the website. There are 266 families and 3,384 species in this database. The shell specimen of Taiwan includes 2,482 records. New species and new record species have finished 215 species. The Chinese shell names of world shells have finished 4,200 species. Chinese writing character fonts have finished 720 words. The website of "The Taiwan Malacofauna Database" has Chinese and English versions. (Author: Heng-Wei Lin)

Lutao (the Green Island, 20kms southeast off Taiwan Island) is a nature park which has the most plentiful marine mini-shells in Taiwan. It is also one of the most important sites in the world that produce various species of mini-shells. The Taiwan Malacological research team of Malacology Laboratory in the Biodiversity Research Center of Academia Sinica has discovered more than 1,400 species of mini-shells around the Ludao sea area. After publishing two books on the Rissoidae and Triphoridae, we will continue to bring masses the latest illustrated handbooks about mini-shells from Lutao. Some artists use mini-shells to make ¡§shell paintings¡¨ which contain vivid subjects such as flowers and birds, landscape, and animals. There was a time when most shell paintings were exported to Japan, Philippines, Hong Kong, Europe, and America to earn Taiwan much-needed foreign currencies. This exceptional shell painting was made in the 1960s and named, in Chinese, Wei-Zhen-Huan-Yu («Â¾_¾È¦t). It displays how human used an organism as a medium to portray another species of organism in an art setting. The relationship between shells and human, the shell-culture, can be a new interdisciplinary research focus for us in the near future.

Entemnotrochus rumphii
The Slit-shell, Entemnotrochus rumphii, is supposedly one of the most ancient of gastropods and lived as far back as the Cambrian Era, which was about five hundred and seventy million to four hundred and ninety million years ago. They are most abundant in the Mesozoic Era and all but disappeared in the Cenozoic era; and thus are called the ¡§living fossils¡¨. In 1968, Taiwanese fishermen began to catch living Entemnotrochus rumphii in the waters off Taiwan such as Dongsha Islands (the Pratas), Diaoyutai Island, and the Taiwan Strait. Characteristics: Shell trochoid, ornamented by beaded spiral riblets, commonly with reddish flame patterns. Shell large. Upper whorls with cancellated appearance, but almost smooth in outer surface whorls. Slit narrow and along attaining almost a half circumference of body whorl. Umbilicus broadly open. Operculum large, corneous and multispiral.


Heng-Wei Lin

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