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Conchologists, Unite
Photo by Jefferson Steele

For the past 40 years, Richard Goldberg has traveled the world — some 20 countries — in search of the discarded homes of mollusks. Well known in the world of conchology (he became the youngest president of the Conchologists of America at age 31), Goldberg will soon garner a special honor: A newly discovered species of the genus Amphidromus, a tropical Asian group of tree snails, will be named for him. He is a frequent contributor to scientific articles classifying new snail species, many found by his good friend, Mike Severns, a renowned biologist and photographer. And last spring, America got to meet the native New Yorker when he was a guest on the Martha Stewart Living show. (Stewart was inspired enough by one of Goldberg's shells to add its color to her paint line.)

Goldberg, a writer-producer at Hopkins' Applied Physics Laboratory who specializes in producing videos for NASA space missions, began collecting shells when he was 8. Today, he has some 10,000 snail species, many of them rare, in his painstakingly organized and documented collection, including a monstrous 40-pound Syrinx and an onion-colored golden cowrie, with a beautiful shine that appears kiln-forged.

"That is one of the first things people say. 'Did you paint them? No, this is as they come out of nature," Goldberg says. "Basically, what you are looking at is a piece of calcium carbonate that the snail created, and it created it in such a way that it is [one] of the most beautiful natural objects in the world, bar none."
— Greg Rienzi

Return to February 2005 Table of Contents

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