MAN and SHELLS: Molluscs in the History

Not only Shells

Author(s): Riccardo Cattaneo-Vietti, Mauro Doneddu and Egidio Trainito

Pp: 3-27 (25)

DOI: 10.2174/9781681082257116010005

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


Molluscs show an architecture designed by an inexhaustible imagina-tion, shapes and designs that have been and are still a marvel for all, and a source of inspiration for artists of alltime. But not only that: science, literature, jewellery, handicraft, and, of course, gastronomy owe much to the molluscs, the shells’ pro-ducers. They include forms very familiar to us, such as the garden snails and the octopuses, mussels and oysters, clams and squid and appeared on our planet long before Man, approximately 500 million years ago.

At some point, they crossed the Man, playing an important role in our life. Many molluscs, in fact, have become part of the human diet from the beginning of our cultural evolution, while others become natural containers, and their uses were in-numerable. Some shells have dominated among the talismans for centuries, some-times as special witness of religious pilgrimage, or represented money in three continents for more than half a millennium. Moreover, the whelks, the Triton trumpets, can be considered one of the first communication instrument at the glob-al level, while, other molluscs, like the Mediterranean Bolinus brandarisand Pin-na nobilis, producing purple and byssus respectively, have had an important role in the history of clothing.

Finally, the contribution that molluscs have provided and continue to give to the experimental biology as well as in mathematic studies is great and, since the clas-sical ages, theyare also part of literature and were, sometimes, protagonists even at cinema and in music.

Keywords: Aliens, byssus, bivalves, cinema, collection, cones, cowries, Dreis-sena, farming, gastronomy, gastropods, literature, molluscs, music, mussels, oys-ters, purple dye, shell structure, Shell Co, Saint Jacques shell, squids, trades.

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