Spirals in Time

There is a delightful scene in the film Pretty Woman (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100405/?ref_=nv_sr_1) with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. Roberts plays a hooker who has been hired by Gere as an escort to accompany him to a business meeting dinner. She is beautifully presented in cocktail dress but lacks table manner etiquette. On been presented with escargots she is inept with the special fork and tongs for the dish and squirts one of the molluscs across the table. Her endearing comment is: “Slippery little suckers…!” I thought of that scene whilst reading an excellent recent book in marine science by the aptly named marine biologist Dr. Helen Scales (http://helenscales.com/) – Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells.

Seashells, stretching from the deep past into the present day, are touchstones leading into fascinating realms of the natural world and cutting-edge science. Members of the phylum Mollusca are among the most ancient animals on the planet. Their shells provide homes for other animals, and across the ages, people have used shells not only as trinkets but also as a form of money, and as powerful symbols of sex and death, prestige and war.

The science and natural history of shells are woven here into a compelling narrative, revealing their cultural importance and the ways they have been used by humans over the millennia. (Seashells have even been tapped as a source of mind-bending drugs.) Helen Scales shows how seashells have been sculpted by the fundamental rules of mathematics and evolution; how they gave us colour, gems, food, and new medicines. After surviving multiple mass extinctions millions of years ago, molluscs and their shells now face an onslaught of anthropogenic challenges, including climate change and corrosive oceans. But rather than dwelling on all that is lost, Scales emphasizes that seashells offer an accessible way to reconnect people with nature, helping to bridge the gap between ourselves and the living world. Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells shows why nature matters more than ever, and reveals the hidden wonders that you can hold in the palm of your hand

Enquire at your local library or available at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Spirals-Time-Curious-Afterlife-Seashells/dp/1472911369/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431763521&sr=8-1&keywords=spirals+in+time

To listen to Helen Scales speak, access the 20 April 2015 episode of ‘Start the Week’ on BBC Radio 4 here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05r0b31


304 pages in Bloomsbury Sigma

First published 7 May 2015

ISBN 978-1472911360


Image result for helen scales

Dr. Helen Scales


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