Pancakes and Escargots
Molluscs have a colorful evolutionary past and an amazing diversity. Humankind has long coveted their shells and consumed their protein-rich bodies. More recently, we have studied their behavior and borrowed their toxins to investigate nerves. Mollusca: The Southern Synthesis (CSIRO, $295 for books A and B), edited by the Australian Biological Resources Study, offers a copiously illustrated look at all manner of gastropod and cephalopod that inhabit Australia and its waters. This collection will please malacologists and others who want more than pedestrian information on this large and fascinating slice of invertebrate natural history. The cast of characters include, left, Opisthoteuthis persephone, the gelatinous pancake octopus; and Tamanovalva babai, an unusual snail dressed like a clam, in a bivalve shell.