THE MAGIC OF SEASHELLS

We can all agree that the sea is an inexhaustible source of beauty and creativity. Everything that the tide drags in ending on the shore of our beaches. Beautiful coral forms, seaweed of all colors and, of course: seashells. Who has not ever stopped to admire and collect shells resting in the sand? Some of them have such incredible shapes that border on mathematical perfection.

Did you know that shells are actually armor for mollusks. These sensitive animals after hundreds of thousands of years of evolution have created all kinds of shells in order to protect themselves. Protect them from both the currents and waves of the ocean as well as predators. It is a matter of survival, pure Darwinism. This evolution is why we find seashells of all sizes, colors and shapes. The physical characteristics of each shell are not due to chance, but all reflect a rational explanation. One of the most striking things about these marine animals is their almost perfect geometric structure. This geometry is due to a formation of patterns created from three actions: expansion, rotation and twisting.

But do you know how shells are formed? As mollusks grow underwater, their tissue absorb salt and chemicals found in the ocean. Thanks to this combination, mollusks begin to secrete calcium carbonate which then hardens on the outside of their bodies, creating a hard protective shell. This shell remains attached to the tissue of the mollusk for its entire life. What few people don't know is that since their shells are made from minerals, not of their own cells, they are not a part of its actual living body. Thus, the more salt and chemicals continues to absorb the animal the more their shell grows. When the mollusk dies, it is detached from its shell which then gets caught in the tide and end up on our beaches.

In summary, seashells are mostly made of calcium with no more than a 2 percent of protein. They are formed from the bottom up, creating three transparent layers and are self-healing. Yes, seashells really are magic, they use calcium carbonate secretions from their mantle tissue to repair any damages that occur.

- María Álvarez Pérez

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