Shells have captivated humans from the dawn of time: the earliest known artwork was made on a shell. As well as containers for food, shells have been used as tools, jewellery and decorations for dwellings, and to bring good luck or to ward off spirits. Many indigenous peoples have used shells as currency, and in a few places they still do. This beautifully illustrated book looks at the scientific and cultural history of shells, showing how their diverse colourful forms take shape. It examines pearls, the only gems of animal origin, as well as how shells have inspired artists throughout history. The book looks at shells used in architecture and ritual, but also how shells are indicators of changing environmental conditions. Also including two essays by shell expert M. G. Harasewych, emeritus curator of gastropods in the Smithsonian's Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Shells is an authoritative exploration of the deep human connection to these molluscan exoskeletons of sea, lake, land, and stream.
Chapter 1. The Shell Makers
Chapter 2. Tribal Shell Use
Chapter 3. Shells and Religion
Chapter 4. Picking up Money on the Beach
Chapter 5. How the Cowrie Got Its Spots
Chapter 6. Iridescent Beauty
Chapter 7. Shells in the Arts
Chapter 8. Molluscs and Medicine
Chapter 9. Shells in a Changing World
Associations And Websites
Large Collections Of Shells
Fabio Moretzsohn was Visiting Assistant Professor at the Department of Life Sciences, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He was the co-author of Encyclopedia of Texas Seashells (2010) and The Book of Shells (with M. G. Harasewych, 2010).
"A well-researched and beautifully illustrated introduction to mollusks and their shells. The book takes the reader through the diverse interactions that we humans have with this amazing group of animals. With its broad span of biological, cultural, medicinal, and environmental topics, it is timely and of great general interest."
– Rüdiger Bieler, Curator of Invertebrates, Field Museum of Natural History
"Fabio Moretzsohn has crafted a laudable volume on shells and the animals that make them, the mollusks. There is a wealth of data on intriguing aspects of the biology and ecology of mollusks, and detailed yet little-known information on cultural practices involving shells. This book is a must-have in the library of any shell enthusiast!"
– José H. Leal, PhD, Science Director and Curator, Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum