|Born||11 July 1920
Auckland, New Zealand
|Died||6 March 2002 (aged 81)
Wellington, New Zealand
|Institutions||Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa|
|Alma mater||Victoria University of Wellington|
|Known for||Work on Mollusca of the Chatham Islands and the Antarctic|
|Spouse||Miriam Matthews (1946-2002; his death)|
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 master's 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. 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.
- In scientific journals
- Dell, R.K. (1950) A Tertiary molluscan fauna from Waikowhai, Manukau Harbour, Auckland. Dominion Museum Records in Zoology, 1, 29–37.
- Dell, R.K. (1952) A revision of the molluscan fauna of the Hurupi beds, southern Wairarapa. Dominion Museum Records in Zoology, 1, 71–86.
- Dell, R.K. (1953) A molluscan fauna from the Chatham Rise, New Zealand. Dominion Museum Records in Zoology, 2, 37–50.
- Dell, R.K. (1955) Nature in New Zealand Native Shells. A.H. & A.W. Reed, Wellington, 64 pp.
- Dell, R.K. (1956) The archibenthal Mollusca of New Zealand. Dominion Museum Bulletin, 18, 1–235.
- Dell, R.K. (1956) Some new off-shore Mollusca from New Zealand. Dominion Museum Records in Zoology, 3, 27–59.
- Dell, R.K. (1962) Additional archibenthal Mollusca from New Zealand. Dominion Museum Records in Zoology, 4, 67–76.
- Dell, R.K. (1963) Notes on some New Zealand Mollusca in the British Museum. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Zoology, 3, 171–177.
- Dell, R.K. (1963) Archibenthal Mollusca from northern New Zealand. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Zoology, 3, 205–216.
- Dell, R.K. (1972) Notes on nomenclature of some Mollusca from Antarctica and southern South America. Records of the Dominion Museum, 8, 21–42.
- Dell, R.K. (1990) Antarctic Mollusca with special reference to the fauna of the Ross Sea. The Royal Society of New Zealand Bulletin, 27, 1–311.
- Other publications
- The New Zealand Cephalopoda (1952)
- The fresh-water Mollusca of New Zealand, 3 parts (1953–1956)
- The position of systematics in the biological sciences (1953)
- Cephalopoda (1959)
- Antarctic and Subantarctic Mollusca, Bivalvia, Amphineura and Scaphopoda (1964)
Taxa named by R.K. Dell
- 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)
- Brookula delli Numanami, 1996
- Calliotropis delli Marshall, 1979
- Carditella delli Crozier, 1966
- Cuspidaria delli Knudsen, 1970
- Cyclochlamys delli Dijkstra & Marshall, 2008
- Cymonomus delli Griffin & Brown, 1975
- Gasparia delli (Forster, 1955)
- Limatula delli Fleming, 1978
- Neilo delli B.A. Marshall, 1978
- Nereis delli Knox, 1960
- Nuculana delliana Huber, 2010
- Ogyrides delli Yaldwyn, 1971
- Otukaia delli McLean & Andrade, 1982
- Penion benthicola delli Powell, 1971
- Platypodia delli Takeda & Webber, 2006
- Podocatactes delli (Guinot, 1989) (basionym: Trachycarcinus delli Guinot, 1989)
- Tractolira delli Leal & Harasewych, 2005
- Zeacolpus delli Marwick, 1957 : synonym of Stiracolpus pagoda (Reeve, 1849)
- Tucker, J.K. 2004 Catalog of recent and fossil turrids (Mollusca: Gastropoda). Zootaxa 682:1-1295