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Spirals in Time : The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells
by Helen Scales


Overview -

Seashells, stretching from the deep past into the present day, are touchstones leading into fascinating realms of the natural world and cutting-edge science. Members of the phylum Mollusca are among the most ancient animals on the planet. Their shells provide homes for other animals, and across the ages, people have used shells not only as trinkets but also as a form of money, and as powerful symbols of sex and death, prestige and war.  Read more...


 
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    Spirals in Time (Paperback)
    Published: 2016-07-26
    Publisher: Bloomsbury SIGMA
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More About Spirals in Time by Helen Scales
 
 
 
Overview

Seashells, stretching from the deep past into the present day, are touchstones leading into fascinating realms of the natural world and cutting-edge science. Members of the phylum Mollusca are among the most ancient animals on the planet. Their shells provide homes for other animals, and across the ages, people have used shells not only as trinkets but also as a form of money, and as powerful symbols of sex and death, prestige and war.

The science and natural history of shells are woven into a compelling narrative, revealing their cultural importance and the ways they have been used by humans over the millennia. (Seashells have even been tapped as a source of mind-bending drugs.) Marine biologist Helen Scales shows how seashells have been sculpted by the fundamental rules of mathematics and evolution; how they gave us color, gems, food, and new medicines.

After surviving multiple mass extinctions millions of years ago, molluscs and their shells still face an onslaught of anthropogenic challenges, including climate change and corrosive oceans. But rather than dwelling on all that is lost, Scales emphasizes that seashells offer an accessible way to reconnect people with nature, helping to bridge the gap between ourselves and the living world. Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells shows why nature matters, and reveals the hidden wonders that you can hold in the palm of your hand.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781472911360
  • ISBN-10: 1472911369
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publish Date: July 2015
  • Page Count: 304


Related Categories

Books > Science > Life Sciences - Marine Biology
Books > Nature > Seashells

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-05-25
  • Reviewer: Staff

Scales (Poseidon’s Steed), a freelance researcher and science reporter, brings a marine biologist’s eye and aficionado’s heart to these musings on seashells, the diversity of mollusks that inhabit them, and the human fascination with them, dancing across a variety of fields of study in her zeal. Scales addresses the mathematics of chambered shell construction, which is theoretically controllable with a small number of rules, and explores sociology through the history of shells as pure ornamentation, markers of social class, and fodder for museums and collectors. She also highlights the social complexities within shellfish-collecting communities such as Gambia’s Try Oyster Women’s Association. Scales covers biology from several angles, investigating the poorly understood history of mollusk evolution as well as oddities such as the strange Pinna nobilis, which produces sea silk; the recent rediscovery of argonauts, the only shell-dwelling cephalopods; and the deadly venom produced by cone snails. Even materials science gets its due as Scales shares research on the composition of mussel glue and the surprising strength of nacre. Conservationism is not a major theme, but she does raise concerns about marine pollution and the impact of pH shifts on mollusk populations. Scales’s eclectic approach to this ancient bridge between the human and natural worlds conveys her curiosity and appreciation, which readers will share. Color insert. (July)

 
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