Online Lecture Series
offered virtually via Zoom and free of charge
The Charisma of Cowries
By Dr. José H. Leal, Ph.D., Science Director and Curator, Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum
Introduction by Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum Executive Director Sam Ankerson, including an update on the Shell Museum
Cowries have played significant roles in human culture going back tens of thousands of years. Their shapes, sizes, and colors exert an attraction that knows no geographical or cultural barriers. Cowries have been used as money, ornaments, spiritual objects, and became one the most desired groups of collectible shells in modern times. In this presentation Dr. Leal discusses the biodiversity, geographical distribution, and natural history of cowries, and some of the most remarkable cultural uses of cowrie shells.
José H. Leal, Ph.D. is the Science Director and Curator of the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. Dr. Leal received his Ph.D. in Marine Biology and Fisheries from the University of Miami and has served as an Assistant Editor for Sea Frontiers Magazine, a Visiting Professor at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. He holds honorary faculty positions at the University of Miami and Florida Gulf Coast University, is a past president of the American Malacological Society and of Conchologists of America, and is currently editor of The Nautilus journal of malacology.