Spotlight: mollusks, “spirals of the sea”

When Helen Scales decided to write about mollusks, she notes that she wasn’t quite prepared for the sheer numbers. There are, she notes, between 100,000 and 200,000 species of mollusks alive today.

Rough periwinkles sit on a bed of barnacles.
Rough periwinkles sit on a bed of barnacles.

Mollusks are providing scientists with plenty of research material. Among the intriguing facts about mollusks are their teeth- “Earlier this year, scientists discovered that limpets make their teeth from the toughest known biological material (a mineral called goethite).” – and whelks’ “sticky, stretchy fibers called byssus threads, which they typically use to attach themselves to wave-pounded rocks. Scientists are now tapping into the mussels’ sticking power to make waterproof glues and self-healing hip replacements.” A lovely, brief read about a seashore walk looking for mollusks is here.

The book is done. It’s Helen’s “attempt to answer why the mollusks are so wondrous and diverse.” You can pick up- “Spirals in Time: The Secret Life & Curious Afterlife of Seashells” at your local bookstore or here at Powells.

Helen recently spoke about these sea creatures at Google Talks. Watch here:

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