Summary and Info
Stories of seashells stretch from the deep past into the present day. They are touchstones leading into fascinating realms of the natural world and cutting-edge science. Shell-makers (members of the phylum Mollusca) are among the most ancient and successful animals on the planet. They live extraordinary lives in many strange places; they create vital food and homes for other animals, and across the ages, people have used shells not only as trinkets but also as powerful symbols of sex and death, prestige and war. This book tells the story of the seashell. Two major themes weave through the narrative: the science and natural history of shells and their (original) owners, and the cultural importance and ways they have been used by humans over the millennia. The author, Helen Scales, shows how these simple objects have been sculpted by fundamental rules of mathematics and evolution, how they gave us colour, gems, food and money, and how they are prompting new medicines and teaching scientists how our brains work. Seashells are also symbols of the impacts humans have on the environment. After surviving multiple mass extinctions millions of years ago, seashells have gone on to face an onslaught of anthopogenic challenges including the most recent crisis - climate change and corrosive oceans. But rather than dwelling on all that is lost, the book emphasises that seashells offer an accessible way to reconnect people with nature, helping to heal the rift between ourselves and the living world. Aside from a fascinating slice of marine biology and cultural history, The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells shows why nature matters, and reveals the amazing story of these undersea wonders of calcium carbonate. Read more... Abstract: A biological and cultural biography of the seashell ubiquitous yet mystical." Read more...
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