SPIRALS IN TIME THE SECRET LIFE AND CURIOUS AFTERLIFE OF SEASHELLS

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Spirals In Time

Author : Helen Scales
ISBN : 9781472911377
Genre : Nature
File Size : 51.71 MB
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Seashells are the sculpted homes of a remarkable group of animals: the molluscs. These are some of the most ancient and successful animals on the planet. But watch out. Some molluscs can kill you if you eat them. Some will kill you if you stand too close. That hasn't stopped people using shells in many ways over thousands of years. They became the first jewelry and oldest currencies; they've been used as potent symbols of sex and death, prestige and war, not to mention a nutritious (and tasty) source of food. Spirals in Time is an exuberant aquatic romp, revealing amazing tales of these undersea marvels. Helen Scales leads us on a journey into their realm, as she goes in search of everything from snails that 'fly' underwater on tiny wings to octopuses accused of stealing shells and giant mussels with golden beards that were supposedly the source of Jason's golden fleece, and learns how shells have been exchanged for human lives, tapped for mind-bending drugs and inspired advances in medical technology. Weaving through these stories are the remarkable animals that build them, creatures with fascinating tales to tell, a myriad of spiralling shells following just a few simple rules of mathematics and evolution. Shells are also bellwethers of our impact on the natural world. Some species have been overfished, others poisoned by polluted seas; perhaps most worryingly of all, molluscs are expected to fall victim to ocean acidification, a side-effect of climate change that may soon cause shells to simply melt away. But rather than dwelling on what we risk losing, Spirals in Time urges you to ponder how seashells can reconnect us with nature, and heal the rift between ourselves and the living world.
Category: Nature

Spirals In Time

Author : Helen Scales
ISBN : 1472916700
Genre : Nature
File Size : 82.2 MB
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Seashells are the sculpted homes of a remarkable group of animals: the molluscs. These are some of the most ancient and successful animals on the planet. But watch out. Some molluscs can kill you if you eat them. Some will kill you if you stand too close. That hasn't stopped people using shells in many ways over thousands of years. They became the first jewelry and oldest currencies; they've been used as potent symbols of sex and death, prestige and war, not to mention a nutritious (and tasty) source of food. Spirals in Time is an exuberant aquatic romp, revealing amazing tales of these undersea marvels. Helen Scales leads us on a journey into their realm, as she goes in search of everything from snails that 'fly' underwater on tiny wings to octopuses accused of stealing shells and giant mussels with golden beards that were supposedly the source of Jason's golden fleece, and learns how shells have been exchanged for human lives, tapped for mind-bending drugs and inspired advances in medical technology. Weaving through these stories are the remarkable animals that build them, creatures with fascinating tales to tell, a myriad of spiralling shells following just a few simple rules of mathematics and evolution. Shells are also bellwethers of our impact on the natural world. Some species have been overfished, others poisoned by polluted seas; perhaps most worryingly of all, molluscs are expected to fall victim to ocean acidification, a side-effect of climate change that may soon cause shells to simply melt away. But rather than dwelling on what we risk losing, Spirals in Time urges you to ponder how seashells can reconnect us with nature, and heal the rift between ourselves and the living world.
Category: Nature

A Natural History Of Shells

Author : Geerat J. Vermeij
ISBN : 0691001677
Genre : Nature
File Size : 55.20 MB
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Geerat Vermeij wrote this "celebration of shells" to share his enthusiasm for these supremely elegant creations and what they can teach us about nature. Most other popular books on shells emphasize the identification of species, but Vermeij uses shells as a way to explore major ideas in biology. How are shells built? How do they work? How did they evolve? With these questions in mind, the author lucidly - and charmingly - demonstrates how shells give us insights into the lives of animals in our own day as well as in the distant geological past. As snails, clams, and other molluscs enlarge their shells, they inscribe a detailed record of the everyday events and unusual circumstances that mark their lives. Moreover, the fossil record that chronicles the history of life is replete with shells of extinct species. Vermeij draws on comparisons of shells from different parts of the world and from successive geological periods to argue that predators have played a decisive role in the evolution of shells. Architectural specialization, he argues, is dictated by the risks, rewards, costs, and benefits imposed by predators and competitors on shell-builders living in a dangerous world. This book will be of interest both to amateur shell collectors and to scholars, and its lively review of evolutionary history should prove especially appealing to a general audience.
Category: Nature

Poseidon S Steed

Author : Helen Scales Ph.D.
ISBN : 9781101133767
Genre : Nature
File Size : 75.26 MB
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A fascinating journey with the sea creature that has captured human imagination for thousands of years Poseidon's Steed trails the seahorse through secluded waters across the globe in a kaleidoscopic history that mirrors man's centuries-old fascination with the animal, sweeping from the reefs of Indonesia, through the back streets of Hong Kong, and back in time to ancient Greece and Rome. Over time, seahorses have surfaced in some unlikely places. We see them immortalized in the decorative arts; in tribal folklore, literature, and ancient myth; and even on the pages of the earliest medical texts, prescribed to treat everything from skin complaints to baldness to flagging libido. Marine biologist Helen Scales eloquently shows that seahorses are indeed fish, though scientists have long puzzled over their exotic anatomy, and their very strange sex lives — male seahorses are the only males in the animal world that experience childbirth! Our first seahorse imaginings appeared six thousand years ago on cave walls in Australia. The ancient Greeks called the seahorse hippocampus (half-horse, half-fish) and sent it galloping through the oceans of mythology, pulling the sea god Poseidon's golden chariot. The seahorse has even been the center of a modern-day international art scandal: A two-thousand-year-old winged seahorse brooch was plundered by Turkish tomb raiders and sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. A book that is as charming as the seahorse itself, Poseidon's Steed brings to life an aquatic treasure. Seahorses lead quiet lives, tucked away out of sight on the seafloor. It is rare to catch a glimpse of a seahorse in its natural habitat. But even if few have seen one live, these exotic, seemingly prehistoric creatures exist quite vividly in our imaginations and they have mesmerized scientists, artists, and storytellers throughout time with their otherworldly rarity. Poseidon's Steed is a sweeping journey that takes us from the coral reefs and seagrass meadows of Indonesia where many seahorses makes their natural habitat to the back streets of Hong Kong where a thriving black market seahorse trade is concealed. Throughout history, seahorses have surfaced in some unexpected places and Scales also follows the seahorse back in time, from our most rudimentary seahorse imaginings six thousand years ago on cave walls in Australia, to the myths of ancient Greece. Scientists have long puzzled over seahorses' unusual anatomy and their very strange sex lives. And male seahorses are the only males in the animal world that experience childbirth! Seahorses are not what scientists call a "keystone" species. They rely on a healthy ocean to survive, but the marine ecosystem does not rely on them. But their delicate beauty reminds us that we rely on the seas not only to fill our dinner plates, but also to feed our imaginations.
Category: Nature

Eye Of The Shoal

Author : Helen Scales
ISBN : 9781472936837
Genre : Science
File Size : 41.60 MB
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Seventy per cent of the earth's surface is covered by water. This vast aquatic realm is inhabited by a multitude of strange creatures and reigning supreme among them are the fish. There are giants that live for centuries and thumb-sized tiddlers that survive only weeks; they can be pancake-flat or inflatable balloons; they can shout with colours or hide in plain sight, cheat and dance, remember and say sorry; some rarely budge while others travel the globe restlessly. And yet the mesmerising and complex lives of fish remain largely underrated and unseen, living hidden beneath the waterline, out of sight and out of mind. Helen Scales is our guide on an underwater journey, as we fathom the depths and watch these animals going about the glorious business of being fish. As well as the fish, we meet devoted fishwatchers past and present, from voodoo zombie potion hunters and scientists who taught fish how to walk to nonagenarian explorers of the deep sea. Woven throughout are vignettes of Helen's own aquatic explorations, from eerie nighttime dives with glowing fish and up-close encounters with giant manta rays, to floating in the middle of a swirling shoal being watched by thousands of inquisitive eyes. As well as being a rich and entertaining read, this book will inspire readers to think again about these animals and the seas they inhabit, and to go out and appreciate the wonders of fish, whether through the glass walls of an aquarium or, better still, by gazing into the fishes' wild world and swimming through it.
Category: Science

The Book Of Shells

Author : M. G. Harasewych
ISBN : 9780226177052
Genre : Science
File Size : 28.83 MB
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Who among us hasn’t marveled at the diversity and beauty of shells? Or picked one up, held it to our ear, and then gazed in wonder at its shape and hue? Many a lifelong shell collector has cut teeth (and toes) on the beaches of the Jersey Shore, the Outer Banks, or the coasts of Sanibel Island. Some have even dived to the depths of the ocean. But most of us are not familiar with the biological origin of shells, their role in explaining evolutionary history, and the incredible variety of forms in which they come. Shells are the external skeletons of mollusks, an ancient and diverse phylum of invertebrates that are in the earliest fossil record of multicellular life over 500 million years ago. There are over 100,000 kinds of recorded mollusks, and some estimate that there are over amillion more that have yet to be discovered. Some breathe air, others live in fresh water, but most live in the ocean. They range in size from a grain of sand to a beach ball and in weight from a few grams to several hundred pounds. And in this lavishly illustrated volume, they finally get their full due. The Book of Shells offers a visually stunning and scientifically engaging guide to six hundred of the most intriguing mollusk shells, each chosen to convey the range of shapes and sizes that occur across a range of species. Each shell is reproduced here at its actual size, in full color, and is accompanied by an explanation of the shell’s range, distribution, abundance, habitat, and operculum—the piece that protects the mollusk when it’s in the shell. Brief scientific and historical accounts of each shell and related species include fun-filled facts and anecdotes that broaden its portrait. The Matchless Cone, for instance, or Conus cedonulli, was one of the rarest shells collected during the eighteenth century. So much so, in fact, that a specimen in 1796 was sold for more than six times as much as a painting by Vermeer at the same auction. But since the advent of scuba diving, this shell has become far more accessible to collectors—though not without certain risks. Some species of Conus produce venom that has caused more than thirty known human deaths. The Zebra Nerite, the Heart Cockle, the Indian Babylon, the Junonia, the Atlantic Thorny Oyster—shells from habitats spanning the poles and the tropics, from the highest mountains to the ocean’s deepest recesses, are all on display in this definitive work.
Category: Science

What We See In The Stars

Author : Kelsey Oseid
ISBN : 9780399579547
Genre : Nature
File Size : 27.91 MB
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A richly illustrated guide to the myths, histories, and science of the celestial bodies of our solar system, with stories and information about constellations, planets, comets, the northern lights, and more. Combining art, mythology, and science, What We See in the Stars gives readers a tour of the night sky through more than 100 magical pieces of original art, all accompanied by text that weaves related legends and lore with scientific facts. This beautifully packaged book covers the night sky's most brilliant features--such as the constellations, the moon, the bright stars, and the visible planets--as well as less familiar celestial phenomena like the outer planets, nebulae, and deep space. Adults seeking to recapture the magic of youthful stargazing, younger readers interested in learning about natural history and outer space, and those who appreciate beautiful, hand-painted art will all delight in this charming book.
Category: Nature

An Edible History Of Humanity

Author : Tom Standage
ISBN : 9780802719911
Genre : Cooking
File Size : 45.33 MB
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A lighthearted chronicle of how foods have transformed human culture throughout the ages traces the barley- and wheat-driven early civilizations of the near East through the corn and potato industries in America.
Category: Cooking

Benjamin Britten

Author : Paul Kildea
ISBN : 9780141924304
Genre : Biography & Autobiography
File Size : 87.72 MB
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Published to mark the beginning of the Britten centenary year in 2013, Paul Kildea's Benjamin Britten: A Life in the Twentieth Century is the definitive biography of Britain's greatest modern composer. In the eyes of many, Benjamin Britten was our finest composer since Purcell (a figure who often inspired him) three hundred years earlier. He broke decisively with the romantic, nationalist school of figures such as Parry, Elgar and Vaughan Williams and recreated English music in a fresh, modern, European form. With Peter Grimes (1945), Billy Budd (1951) and The Turn of the Screw (1954), he arguably composed the last operas - from any composer in any country - which have entered both the popular consciousness and the musical canon. He did all this while carrying two disadvantages to worldly success - his passionately held pacifism, which made him suspect to the authorities during and immediately after the Second World War - and his homosexuality, specifically his forty-year relationship with Peter Pears, for whom many of his greatest operatic roles and vocal works were created. The atmosphere and personalities of Aldeburgh in his native Suffolk also form another wonderful dimension to the book. Kildea shows clearly how Britten made this creative community, notably with the foundation of the Aldeburgh Festival and the building of Snape Maltings, but also how costly the determination that this required was. Above all, this book helps us understand the relationship of Britten's music to his life, and takes us as far into his creative process as we are ever likely to go. Kildea reads dozens of Britten's works with enormous intelligence and sensitivity, in a way which those without formal musical training can understand. It is one of the most moving and enjoyable biographies of a creative artist of any kind to have appeared for years. Paul Kildea is a writer and conductor who has performed many of the Britten works he writes about, in opera houses and concert halls from Sydney to Hamburg. His previous books include Selling Britten (2002) and (as editor) Britten on Music (2003). He was Head of Music at the Aldeburgh Festival between 1999 and 2002 and subsequently Artistic Director of the Wigmore Hall in London.
Category: Biography & Autobiography

Beyond Walden

Author : Robert Thorson
ISBN : 080271983X
Genre : Science
File Size : 20.27 MB
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Acclaimed geologist Robert Thorson has been fascinated by kettle lakes ever since his youth in the upper Midwest. As with historic stone walls, each kettle lake has a story to tell, and each is emblematic of the interplay between geology and history. Beyond Walden covers the natural history of kettle lakes, a band of small lakes that extends from the prairie potholes of Montana to the cranberry bogs of Cape Cod. Kettle lakes were formed by glaciers and are recognizable by their round shape and deep waters. Kettles are the most common and widely distributed "species" of natural lake in the United States. They have no inlet or outlet streams so they are essentially natural wells tapping the groundwater. Isolated from one another, each lake has its own personality, and is vulnerable to pollution and climate warming. The most famous kettle lake is Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts; but northern Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota are most closely associated with them. These lakes have had a tremendous impact on the livelihood and lifestyles of peoples of the area--Native Americans, early explorers and settlers, and the locals and tourists who now use the lakes for recreation. Thorson explores lake science: how kettle lakes are different from other lakes, what it takes to keep all lakes healthy, how global warming and other factors affect lakes. Beyond Walden has a strong environmental message, and will do for the kettle lakes of America's Heartland--and beyond--what Stone by Stone did for the historic stone walls of New England.
Category: Science