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.
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Happy Birthday to Alvin! August 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Alvin, the submersible that has been so influential in ocean research, including the discovery of hydrothermal vents. In 2014, a retrofitted Alvin also took its first test cruise.
Heather Olins, a doctoral candidate at Harvard, studies microbial ecology at deep sea hydrothermal vents with the help of Alvin, and shares her personal tribute to the submersible on these landmark occasions.
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