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Shells are one of the most familiar and fascinating creations of nature. Valued for their beauty since prehistoric times, they may be seen on Greek and Roman vases, Renaissance paintings, African ornaments, and modern jewelry. Mollusks, the animals without backbones, that produce shells are so widespread that, second to insects, they are the most numerous creatures on earth. Yet, until recent discoveries, the secrets of mollusks' amazing survival have hardly been understood. This comprehensive, visually exciting book includes an up-to-date text, wonderfully illustrated with underwater images and full-color diagrams and charts, which more fully explains the intricate construction of shells and why mollusks are one of the big winners in the race of living creatures to dominate the planet. In a guide section, four hundred different types of shells of the world are described and illustrated, ranging from the most numerous to the rarest and from the most beautiful to the most exotic. Many are depicted underwater as a diver would see them living in their natural habitat. In addition, there are full-color diagrams of their anatomy that show how these wonderfully adapted animals function. Finally, there is practical advice on how to build an outstanding shell collection that is beautiful to look at, helpful in understanding various marine environments, and respectful of nature. This book with its in-depth portrait of shells will be invaluable to naturalists, divers, and shell collectors.