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Conchology Section
Auckland Museum Institute

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Newsletter - May 2000

Members at the May meeting welcomed our patron John Morton.
The more recent news is not good. On 25-May John fell while giving a lecture and has been admitted to North Shore hospital with a fractured skull. He is being kept in for observation. His wife Pat says he is improving, but he needs a lot of rest so visits are not advised at present. We wish him patience during his (very reluctant!) hospital stay and a speedy recovery.

John gave a thought provoking talk on Dr Rupert Sheldrake, a biologist and author of the highly acclaimed books, A New Science of Life and The Presence of the Past. Born in 1942, Sheldrake studied natural sciences at Cambridge and philosophy at Harvard. Returning to Cambridge, he became a research fellow of the Royal Society, investigating plant development and the processes of aging and regeneration. He has also done research on rain forest plants at the University of Malaya and on tropical legume crops at Hyderabad in India.

He introduced the hypothesis of morphic resonance fields, which has been described as a sweeping challenge to the very fundamentals of established science. In the 19 years since his first publication his work has neither disappeared nor been acclaimed.
Morphic resonance is given the role commonly attributed to genes - of accounting for the living memory with which organisms maintain the likeness of each other. Human memory and skills are all held to be endowed with fields of inherent memory preserved and transmitted by the process of formative causation.

A now famous eaxample, with its rapid spread attributable to morphic resonance is the novel milk-bottle behaviour acquired by the blue tit. These birds learned to pierce the metal-foil tops of bottles to reach the surface layer of cream. First noticed in Britain at Southampton in 1921 the habit spread to Scandinavia and the Netherlands in the 30's, even though individual birds never move more than a few miles from their breeding place. Milk bottles disappeared in the Netherlands with the war in 1940, being restored only in 1947-8. Though no pre-war birds could have survived, the habit reappeared at once, and in several widely distant places, with numerous individuals involved from the outset. It was soon widespread.

There was a lot more to the theories, for further study John recommended reading the Sheldrake books. John fielded some questions and we thanked him for his talk.

Celia won the door prize of Strombus pugilis.

Dr Neville Hudson
Members congratulate Neville on obtaining his doctorate.

Paul asks if anyone has a wooden shell cabinet for sale. He would prefer it to be rimu, or kauri. He could restore an old one so its' condition is not important. Ph (09) 849 5311.

The May 2000 Forest & Bird magasine has a good article on New Zealandís 500 seamounts with illustrations of some of its 200 species of invertebrates eg. corals, octopus, chitons, echinoderms, crinoids, crabs and a Pleurotomaria? Damage to the habitat by trawling is discussed.

Tony and Jenny have enough copy for half of the next journal. Now is the time to get your articles written and posted, especially those of you who have made promises!!!

Have you top quality shells suitable for the Saturday evening auction? Can you billet an out of Auckland member? Phone Glenys (09) 415 9930. Are you planning your entries? It is later than you think!

Tuesday 13-June-2000 at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Entry by the Administration door between 7:15 and 7:45pm. No late admittance.

The speaker will be Bruce Hayward his title is Mapping and monitoring the Waitemata Harbour biota. What lives in the harbour and where? Discover how to measure the growth rate of a small bivalve like Theora lubrica - its a muddy solution! Or how to measure a big one like Atrina. Are the Zostera beds returning?

There will be a door prize of Cypraea cervinetta, collected at Panama, for the best tray of shells from the Waitemata Harbour, historical specimens especially welcome. (Judges decision final!) As usual Doug will be offering tempting shells on the trading table.

Margaret Morley Phone 576 8323.    Email: Peter Poortman
Conchology Section website: http://members.tripod com/~nz_seashells


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