Mr Jon Ablett

Picture of Jon Ablett with the giant squid (Architeuthis dux)
  • Curator, Mollusca
  • Life Sciences department
  • Invertebrates
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road


Employment history

2003 - Present:       Curator non-marine Mollusca and Cephalopoda, NHM

2003:                         Volunteer Curator, Mollusca section, NHM

2003:                         Research assistant to Dr. David Gower, Lower Vertebrates, NHM

2002 - 2003:            Assistant Conservator, Grant Museum of Zoology, University College London

2000 - 2001:           Curatorial / research assistant, Lower Vertebrates, NHM                                                                      (University Placement)


1998 - 2002:           BSc. (Hons.) Zoology, Cardiff University

Curatorial Responsibilities

Curatorial Responsibilities

  • Curation and upkeep of type and general collections of non-marine molluscs.
  • Curation and upkeep of type and general collections of cephalopods.
  • Answering of enquiries, provision of loans and the supervision of visitors for the collections under my care.
  • Identification and accession of new material of non-marine molluscs and cephalopods.
  • Re-organisation of the non-marine mollusc collection to an up to date taxonomic order.
  • Maintaining the Mollusca Section database (KE EMu)

Special Projects

Preserving the giant squid

In 2004 a giant squid (Architeuthis dux, Steenstrup in Harting 1860) was caught by the Falkland Islands registered trawler 'John Cheek' off the coast of the Falkland Islands. The Captain of the ship gave it to the research station on the Falkland Islands who donated it to the Natural History Museum on the provision that it was put on public display. The squid was 8.62m in length and was the largest 'wet' specimen ever preserved at the NHM. As curator in charge of cephalopods it was my responsibility to design, manage and implement the preservation, storage and display of this enormous creature.

The story of the preservation and display of the giant squid can be seen here: 

Preserving an 8.62 meter giant squid PDF (1.6 MB)


Architeuthis dux specimen in Darwin Cenre Tank Room. © Natural History Museum London.

Architeuthis dux specimen in Darwin Centre Tank Room.


In 2007 I visited Thailand and Vietnam with my colleague Fred Naggs to collect terrestrial gastropods along with scientists from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand and Hanoi University of Science in Vietnam. The field trip was part of a larger Darwin Initiative project in 7 south-east Asian countries, which aims to develop land snail expertise in South and Southeast Asia. 

In the course of this trip we collected over a 1000 specimens. We hope that the material collected on this and subsequent field trips will allow us to:

Cyclophorus sp.

Cyclophorus sp. found in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam.


  • increase international cooperation in regional malacology
  • establish/enhance reference collections
  • develop databases
  • publish illustrated species lists
  • publish popular guides
  • engage in the publication of joint research
  • identify conservation priorities
  • develop conservation strategies

For further information see 

Tropical Land Snail Diversity


  • Breure ASH & Ablett JD ( 2012 ) Annotated type catalogue of the Bothriembryontidae and Odontostomidae (Mollusca, Gastropoda, Orthalicoidea) in the Natural History Museum, London ZooKeys 182 : 1-70 . ZooKeys | 10.3897/zookeys.182.2720
  • Breure, A.S.H. & Ablett, J.D.     ( 2011 ) Annotated type catalogue of the Amphibulimidae (Mollusca, Gastropoda, Orthalicoidea) in the Natural History Museum, London ZooKeys Issue 138, no. 1847 : . ZooKeys
  • Gower, D.J., Ablett, J.D. ( 2006 ) Counting ventral scales in Asian anilioid snakes. Herpetological Journal 16 : 259-263 . Herpetological Journal
  • Gower, D.J., Ablett, J.D. ( 2002 ) Scale surface micro-ornamentation in some burrowing snakes. Abstracts, SVPCA 50 : 18 .