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Saturday, June 02, 2012

Shells:Treasures of the Sea

Shells: Treasures of the Sea
by Leonard Hill

This super large 14"x11" hardbound book weighing about 6 pounds is a recent favorite at home.

Turn to any random page and read it like an encyclopedia - evolution and origins of sea shells, the animals inside the shells, shell architecture, genetic designs of color and pattern, conchology and all about Shells and Man.

The photographs are beautiful, whether they are an imposing double-page spread, a stunning full-page close-up, or just a small insert.

Many shells from my childhood, shells that I collected just for the joy of it not knowing the creatures that were part of it or what they were called, came up in this book, stirring not just nostalgia but a renewed curiosity about them.

From stylish Coronate Pagoda Spindle, Common Turritella, Cypraeidae (Cowrie) shells ('Chozhi', in Tamil - pieces in a favorite game my mom and I used to play), Chambered Nautilus, Murex, gorgeous Green Abalone, to regular everyday Clams, Mussels, and Limpets, the book itself is a treasure for sea shell lovers.

Many of the soft invertebrate mollusks that can be traced back to over 600 million years ago have evolved to secrete a protective calcium carbonate shell which is what we see and love and collect as beautiful sea shells. I am not a sea food fan, so, no mussels and clams and shrimp and scallops on my diet, but reading about them was quite satisfying in itself.

The fact that Ana has renewed this book from the library, keeping it for almost a month, reaching for it on and off, especially after a full day at school just laying on the sofa and leafing through its pages picking up random tidbits of information, is a good indicator of how much this book is relished.

After a recent field trip with her school, Ana came back with a lovely little souvenir for me - a cute turtle made of seashells.

A shell on that turtle souvenir caught her fancy - viz., Architectonica Perspectiva. And when she discovered a book in the library whose cover sported a similar shell, she immediately brought it home to explore.

Of course, I learned the fancy "Architectonica Perspectiva" from this book, as well as its common name, Painted Sundial.

Thanks to that trip, Ana's interest in the tidepool creatures and the ocean life in general has increased, which is probably what is sustaining the interest in this impressive volume, Shells: Treasures of the Sea, for now.

At nearly $75 for a new book, it is not in my budget to buy it for our bookshelf, but, when I do find a good used copy for a reasonable price, I am sure I'll find it hard to resist.

[Book cover image source: amazon.com]

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