Auckland Shell Club
Patricia Langford is a master storyteller, and her topic "Molluscs and Mankind" took us on a fascinating journey around the world and throughout history.
Our known association with molluscs was recently extended to 65,000 years ago, following the discovery in Southern Africa of the remains of a woman wearing a necklace of small coastal shells.
Extensive evidence of shell trading in ancient times has been found around the world. Shells were commonly used for decoration, ceremonial purposes, as tools, and even as money.
Patricia told interesting and often humorous stories about ancient peoples such as Cro-Magnum man, North American natives, Chinese, Mayans, Indians, medieval Europeans, and Pacific Islanders, all of whom found uses for either the shells or the molluscs themselves.
From the ship destroying Teredo> through to expensive pearls and cameos, it seems that everything humans have done throughout history has had a shell in there somewhere.
Much of the worlds current wealth originated one way or another from shells. For example, the wealth generated from global seashell trading by the Dutch contributed to the establishment of the Shell Oil company.
Besides the shells themselves, uses were often found for other molluscan products.
The byssus of Pinna nobilis which is endemic to the Mediterranean sea was used to make very fine stockings.
Murex secretions have been used extensively for the production of vividly coloured dyes, and in Ireland and Scotland the dogwinkle was used to make black dye for writing and illustration.
It was amusing to hear that the Roman Emperor Nero brought the entire tyrian dye industry to a halt after ruling that only he could wear that purple colour.
Mollusc flesh has probably always been eaten. Helix pomatia (aka the Roman snail) was spread throughout Europe and England by the Romans to be used as a food source.
During World War II, large Achatina land snails from Africa were taken to Indonesia and throughout the Pacific by the Japanese to be used as an emergency food supply for their troops. These snails have now become a big problem.
Further problems were caused when Euglandina rosea, a common Florida snail, was deliberately introduced to Hawaii to eliminate Achatina snails from the pineapple plantations. These predatory snails killed off many local tree snail species within the first year, and are an ongoing threat to the indigenous O'ahu tree snail.
On a more positive note, land snails have at times been an artistic inspiration. For example, the Seminole Indians of the Florida Everglades based the handwoven designs of their cloaks robes and blankets on the natural designs of tree snail shell patterns.
Shells have also had an influence in the fields of architecture and design, and scallop shells were often used as religious symbols and in heraldry.
The dimensions of shells has also come under study in relation to the Fibronachi number sequence. For example the growth structure of the chambered nautilis is said to follow Fibronachi ratios.
Mankinds association with molluscs is a far reaching and fascinating subject.
Patricia illustrated her talk with a tray full of specimens, and several members also brought in relevant items.
Heathers tray of more than 20 edible NZ species triggered a lively discussion on the subject of molluscs as a food source, ranging from interesting finds in Maori middens to the survival methods of the Shackleton Antarctic expedition.
New Zealand Shell Show 2013
Itís our turn to host the next NZ Shell Show, and the date and venue has now been determined.
It will again be held at Te Tuhi Center for the Arts in Pakuranga, Auckland, on 3rd - 5th May 2013.
Peter Poortman (firstname.lastname@example.org or 09 817 1397) is the contact for this.
Shell Auction - Albany Hall, Saturday 27th October 2012
The auction schedule will be sent out with the September newsletter.
Sellers please get your lot list to Peter Poortman (email@example.com) by mid August.
Epsom Community Centre, 202 Gillies Avenue, Epsom at 7:30pm on Tuesday 10th of July (doors open 7pm).
Heather will do a quick report on her trip to Australia visiting the Townsville and Yeppoon Shell Shows, and shelling at Dingo Beach.
Her twin sister Alison will then talk about Tawharanui Regional Park where she has been involved as a volunteer for the last 10 years. Her talk will include the history of the Marine Reserve, the restoration of native trees, and the relocation of native birds. This will include a powerpoint presentation with many amazing photos.
Please bring in a tray of interesting NZ shells. If you have any large specimens of NZ shells, we could measure them to see if they could go into the records.
We welcome contributions to our club magazine "Poirieria".
Anything related to shells or collecting would be greatly appreciated - Eg. shelling trips/finds, personal observations/tips, scientific research, historic anecdotes, a notable washup, etc.
Please email articles to Peter Poortman at firstname.lastname@example.org, or post to 26 Pendlebury Street, Green Bay, Auckland 0604.
We have an extensive collection of books, magazines, and scientific publications available, as well as a biological microscope.
Items of Interest
. Enclosed is our members list for 2012.
. Tony Enderby is interested in fresh water mussels, particularly from the Leigh area, and would like to hear from anyone who has collected them there.
. As part of a wider study of the genus Cominella, Hamish Spencer requires some ethanol preserved live taken specimens of the Norfolk Island endemic species Cominella norfolkensis. If you are going to Norfolk Island and would be willing to collect these whelks, please contact Hamish at email@example.com. He will send you the details, including collection materials and the necessary documentation.
. Items of interest for the monthly newsletter are always welcome - email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or post to Peter Poortman, 26 Pendlebury Street, Green Bay, Auckland 0604.
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