Shells, wonders of nature

Since the beginning of time, man has been fascinated by shells, a natural universe of shapes and colors in perfect harmony. For this reason, history has been marked by acts in which shells have been present.


 Already in Prehistory, some species were considered sacred objects, with a high symbolic value and later they were used as coins of current use until almost into the 20th century. Also in classical antiquity, collections of seashells owned by the Roman emperors are already cited.


In the Middle Ages, the scallop (Pecten maximus), became the great symbol of Christianity, being used by the crusaders and pilgrims as signs of their ideology; But this was not the only religion that had been fixed on the shells, the Hindu religion has in the Turbinella pyrum a great mythological and religious tradition, in which the sense of good fortune is concentrated. For this reason, these shells were adorned with sheets of gold and silver and were used in their liturgical celebrations.



In art, the beauty of these great works of nature has also been captured; In Boticcelli's painting, "The Birth of Venus", the beauty of the shells is evident and a certain symbolism of fertility is glimpsed, since life arose from the sea. This painting represents the birth of the goddess Venus emerging from the sea on the back of a scallop.



Some species have been used as instruments to facilitate the work of man, it is enough to cite as an example the well-known "newt" (Charonia tritonis) used as a sound emitter when blowing through its truncated apex. The sound was heard at great distances, being used to signal or invoke the gods, as is still done today, in Polynesia.



Also from that area comes the Tridacna gigas or giant clam, whose valves were used in churches as basins for holy water. This species can reach 150 cm in length and a weight of about 250 kg, it is not surprising that around this species there are terrible stories about divers trapped between their valves when they close at the minimum contact.



The most legendary species and one of the most sought after, is known by the name of "Glory cone of the sea" (Conus gloriamaris). Countless legends are told about it. The best known, which is said to be true, is the one that states that at the beginning of the 19th century, there were only two unique specimens in the world. One of them belonged to the famous Dutch naturalist Hwass and the other to an unknown French collector.

 When the first of them found out that the Frenchman was selling his copy, he made a great offer for it and once he had it in his possession he threw it on the ground and reduced it to dust; He then exclaimed "Now mine is the only one that exists in the whole world."

The family to which Gloriamaris belongs is that of the canines, among which are species endowed with poisonous stingers capable of causing terrible pain and even death for humans. Normally these animals synthesize a powerful poison, with which they paralyze their victims to later devour them.



Hundreds of curiosities and anecdotes about mollusks could be cited, considering that it is one of the most studied zoological groups and given the high number of species (about 100,000) distributed throughout the world. They are also one of the greatest exponents of adaptation to the environment since they have conquered the sea to unsuspected depths and on land, rivers and even the tops of great mountains.

Anyone who begins to be interested in these great architects of nature, will enter a world unsuspected by the great variety that exists and, in the end, will lead to an exciting scientific work, not without great surprises since all of them. There are several new species that are discovered.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published