Bloomsbury Publishing, March 2016. 304 pages, Paperback, colour photographs, black and white illustrations.
This book provides a natural history 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. 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 bellwethers of the impact of humanity on the environment.
Molluscs today face an onslaught of anthropogenic challenges, notably ocean acidification, a side-effect of climate change that could see 30% of all seashells gone in just twenty-five years. But rather than dwelling on what we risk losing, this book emphasises that seashells offer an accessible way to reconnect with nature, helping to heal the rift between ourselves and the living world, and it reveals in full the amazing story of these undersea wonders of calcium carbonate.