Chapter 8: Implications for Everyday Systems

Section 7: Biological Pigmentation Patterns

Collecting shells

The shells I show in this section are mostly from my fairly small personal collection, obtained at shops and markets around the world. (A few of the ones on page 416 are from the Field Museum.) The vast majority of shells on typical beaches do not have especially elaborate patterns. The Philippines are the largest current source of collectible shells: when molluscs intended as food are caught in nets interesting-looking shells are sometimes picked out before being discarded. Shell collecting as a hobby probably had its greatest popularity in the late 1700s and 1800s. In recent times one reason for studying animals that live in cone shells is that they produce potent neurotoxins that show promise as pain-control drugs.

From Stephen Wolfram: A New Kind of Science [citation]