Book review: Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells by Helen Scales

Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of SeashellsSpirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells by Helen Scales
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From BBc Radio 4 – Book of the Week:Marine biologist Dr Helen Scales tells the story of seashells; from the molluscs that create them to the humans who have used them as jewellery, symbol and even currency.

Episode 1
Helen Scales defines ‘molluscs’, one of the most ancient and successful animal groups on the planet.

Episode 2
The author considers the human use of shells – from jewellery via fertility symbol through to their link with a dark episode in human history.

Episode 3
Helen Scales investigates the bizarre world of the hermit crab and uncovers the truth behind the near-mythical substance ‘sea silk’.

Episode 4
Helen Scales explores the impact of fossilised shells on agriculture and geology, and peeks into the driven world of the shell collector.

Episode 5
Molluscs continue to surprise as researchers pursue medical advances, while scientists look to them as bellwethers of our impact on the seas.

Written and read by Helen Scales
Abridged by Sian Preece

Producer: Eilidh McCreadie

Helen Scales’ doctorate involved searching for giant, endangered fish in Borneo; she’s also tagged sharks in California, and once spent a year cataloguing all the marine life she could find surrounding a hundred islands in the Andaman Sea. Helen appears regularly on BBC Radio 4 on programmes such as ‘Inside Science’ and ‘Shared Planet’ and has presented documentaries on topics such as whether people will ever live underwater, the science of making and surfing waves and the intricacies of sharks’ minds.


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