100 Years – 100 Objects: Spondylus americanus

The Houston Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1909 – meaning that the curators of the Houston Museum of Natural Science have been collecting and preserving natural and cultural treasures for a hundred years now. For this yearlong series, our current curators have chosen one hundred exceptional objects from the Museum’s immense storehouse of specimens and artifacts—one for each year of our history. Check back here frequently to learn more about this diverse selection of behind-the-scenes curiosities—we will post the image and description of a new object every few days.

This description is from Tina, the museum’s associate curator of malacology. She has chosen a selection of objects that represent the most fascinating shells and animals in the Museum’s collections, that we’ll be sharing here – and at 100.hmns.org– throughout the year.


This beautiful, orange specimen of the “Atlantic Thorney Oyster” is not an oyster at all.  It is a member of the same Family and Pectens or”scallops.” They are edible, as are all the members of this Family, but do not occur in large numbers so are not generally consumed by the general public. 

Their habitats range from North Carolina to Florida, to Texas and down to Brazil.  They are quite variable in color and in length and number of spines.  This rare color specimen was found by a diver on a ship wreck off the Texas coast.

You can see more images of this fascinating artifact – as well as the others we’ve posted so far this year – in the 100 Objects section at 100.hmns.org

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