Collection Data

Page Contents: Section | Significance | Background | Location & Dates | Taxonomic Contents | Documentation | Description of Collection | Collection Inventory | Collection Assets

California Institute of Technology Invertebrate Collection

Section Responsible for Processing



The California Institution of Technology (CalTech) Recent Invertebrate Collection was established and utilized almost exclusively by Dr. Heinz Lowenstam for biomineralogic studies at CalTech until its transfer to NHMLAC in 1988.

Historically these collections were utilized to study biomineralogical processes and contents of living invertebrates by select staff members and graduate students. Significant holdings from Palau, Bermuda, and the Caribbean were accumulated by Heinz Lowenstam during his visits while studying coral reefs.


Selected publications that utilized this collection include:

Lowenstam, H. A., W. Traub, and S. Weiner. 1984. Nautilus hard parts: A study of the mineral and organic constituents. Paleobiology 10(2): 268-279.

Lowenstam, H. A. and S. Weiner. 1985. Transformation of amorphous calcium phosphate to crystalline dahllite in the radular teeth of chitons. Science 227: 51-53.

Collection Location and Dates

No information available.

Taxonomic Contents

Mollusks dominate this collection. Some cnidarians, echinoderms, and crustaceans are also present.


A collection inventory does not exist. Photocopies of Heinz Lowenstam's field notes is all that exists with regard to documentation. Sets of these photocopied field notes are in Invertebrate Paleontology at the South Grand Warehouse and in the Malacology Section of NHMLAC.

Description of Collection

This world-wide, predominantly dry, invertebrate collection is divided into two parts: (1) a world-wide reference/research collection loosely curated by the late Heinz Lowenstam and CalTech students, and (2) a non- curated accumulation of wet and dry invertebrates and sediment samples. The dry CalTech collections are currently stored at the northeast and southwest corners of the North Grand Warehouse in less than ideal conditions and with inadequate lighting thus limiting access.

Collection Inventory

The dry curated portion of the collection is housed in 12 wood Malacology cabinets with 13 drawers each. Within the wooden cabinets are 238 trays that contain approximately 30 lots each = 7140 lots. The wet and dry non-curated material was housed in 100+ wooden crates (which includes approximately 600-700 sediment samples) and 100+ wooden trays. In 2003 the non-curated wet invertebrate samples (1330 lots) were curated and are now housed at the NHMLAC Polychaete Collection Room. The curation of these lots is described in the tables below.

Collection Assets

Date View or Retrieve File Information
08/15/2003 View [237.3 kB] Collection before curation
08/15/2003 View [358.9 kB] Samples being sorted at N. Grand Warehouse
08/15/2003 View [317.9 kB] Samples being sorted at N. Grand Warehouse
08/15/2003 View [219.4 kB] Shrink wrapped crates on pallets in N. Grand Warehouse
08/15/2003 View [119.8 kB] Shrink wrapped crates on pallets in N. Grand Warehouse
08/15/2003 View [204.9 kB] Curated samples on shelf
08/15/2003 View [260.6 kB] Curated samples on shelf
08/15/2003 View [181.0 kB] Curated samples on shelf
08/15/2003 View [260.9 kB] Curated samples on shelf
08/15/2003 View [215.5 kB] Echinoderms and mollusks from Mazatlan, Mexico, collected December 24, 1958
08/15/2003 View [211.0 kB] Mollusks from Pt. Fermin, California, July 20, 1954
08/15/2003 View [146.4 kB] Brachiopods from Velero Station No. 11917, February 6, 1968
08/15/2003 View [217.6 kB] Mostly echinoderms, Australia
08/15/2003 View [107.0 kB] Shrimp from Velero Station No. 15549, May 18, 1971
08/15/2003 View [205.1 kB]  

Curatorial Status (Click to view)