Saturday, February 26, 2011
My wife and I like to collect mementos that remind us of our holidays. Early in the year we visited Mexico and we stayed at a hotel near Playa del Carmen. In addition to examples of local wood carving and pottery we bought two small sea shells. I chose a brown and white one with a delicate pattern resembling fish scales, and my wife chose a black and white one with a spiral pattern. Hers had a prickly spine which spiralled from the thin end to the wider end that resembled a youthful nipple. My shell was eight centimetres long and my wife’s was approximately eleven centres in length.
I have always been fascinated with seashells. Molluscs that live within them are invertebrates. They protect themselves by forming their hard outer coatings which also support their bodies. As they grow larger, they add material to the leading edge of the opening through which they can extend their bodies for feeding and moving from one place to another. The added material on the leading edge forms ‘growth lines’ which are responsible for producing patterns that are sometimes defined by delicate hues or sharp tonal contrasts. Whether the colours are subtle or contrasting I quite often find them attractive. No two shells are identical, and similar shells have individual differences, just as we human beings have unique fingerprints.
The study of, and the accrued knowledge of natural species is vast, and the systematic scientific study of shells (conchology) is no exception. My mind boggles when I scratch the surface of the subject and come across words like Gastropoda, Polyplacophora. At that point I realize I have no real desire to become a conchologist. Instead, I am content to gaze in wonder at the variety and beauty of seashells, while believing they have been created by the great and wonderful God who made the universe. (Genesis 1:1)
All about Seashells