Richard Dell bigraphy, stories - Zoologists

Richard Dell : biography

11 July 1920 - 6 March 2002

Richard Kenneth Dell (11 July 1920 – 6 March 2002) was a New Zealand malacologist.

Taxa named by R.K. Dell

Apart from having named numerous species in the Mollusca and some in the Crustacea, he has also established a number of new genera :

  • Alertalex Dell, 1956 (Calliostomatidae)
  • Antarctodomus Dell, 1972 (Buccinidae)
  • Benthomodiolus Dell, 1987 (Mytilidae )
  • Cavellioropa Dell, 1952 (Charopidae)
  • Chathamidia Dell, 1956 : synonym of Exilia Conrad, 1860 (Ptychatractidae )
  • Falsitromina Dell, 1990 (Buccinidae)
  • Flammoconcha Dell, 1952 (Charopidae)
  • Maoriconcha Dell, 1952 (Charopidae)
  • Maoricrater Dell, 1956 (Lepetidae)
  • Maoriscaphander Dell, 1950 (Cylichnidae)
  • Obanella Dell, 1952 (Charopidae)
  • Pseudegestula Dell, 1954 (Charopidae)
  • family Rhizoridae Dell, 1952 (superfamily Philinoidea) [originally regarded as a synonym of Retusidae by Bouchet & Rocroi (2005) but reinstated as valid by Malaquias et al. (2009) ]
  • Rissopsetia Dell, 1956 (Pyramidellidae)
  • Ruapukea Dell, 1952 (Aclididae)
  • Tasmalira Dell, 1956 (Cerithiopsidae)
  • Tasmocrossea Dell, 1952 (Skeneidae)
  • Tecticrater Dell, 1956 (Lepetellidae)
  • (Crustacea) Pteropeltarion Dell, 1972 (Trichopeltariidae)


Dell was born in Auckland in 1920. As a young boy, he took an interest in shells, collecting them from the shores of Waitemata Harbour. He even managed to start a "museum" in his backyard. He also helped curate the Auckland War Memorial Museum shell collection.

Dell studied at Mount Albert Grammar School and later at the Auckland University College. He took a teacher’s course at Auckland Teachers' College, but World War II delayed his plans to become a teacher. He joined the New Zealand Artillery, serving on Nissan Island, the Solomon Islands, in the Middle East, Egypt, and Italy. He later published several papers on the land snails he had collected in the Solomon Islands.

After the war, Dell was offered a job as malacologist at the Dominion Museum, where he started to standardise the cabinets and built up a collection of more than 30,000 specimens. In the meantime, he took a Masters degree in Science at Victoria University of Wellington, with a pioneering thesis on cephalopods, octopuses and squid.

His breakthrough came with the Chatham Islands Expedition of 1954. The results were published in 1956 as The Archibenthal Mollusca of New Zealand, which was a major contribution to the knowledge of molluscan fauna in the bathyal zone of New Zealand waters. This publication earned him a Doctorate in Science in 1956.

Soon after, Dell started to work on Antarctic collections, with among others Alan Beu and Winston Ponder. In 1964 he published a major monograph on the Antarctic bivalves, chitons and scaphopods.

Dell became first Assistant Director in 1961 and later in 1966, Director of the Dominion Museum, which would become the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

He retired in 1980, and started writing again. In 1990 he published his standard work Antarctic Mollusca with special reference to the Fauna of the Ross Sea.

Dell published more than 150 papers on Mollusca (marine, terrestrial and freshwater), crabs and birds. He also made a major contribution to the Antarctic biogeography.

In the 1981 New Year Honours, Dell was appointed a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for public services.. Retrieved 26 May 2013. He was an honoured member of many scientific societies and committees. He won prizes and medals in New Zealand and abroad. He has named many new species of molluscs and several new crustaceans.

Dell died in 2002, after a long illness, in Wellington. He was survived by his wife Miriam Dell, who he had married in 1946.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine