There is something so delightful about discovering a gorgeous, unique shell along the beach – no matter your age! From conches to cowries to scallops and whelks, seashells showcase a wonderfully diverse range of beauty. While they are lovely to look at, there is lots to learn about these natural marvels too. Here are 5 seashell facts to dip your toes in:
5 Seashell Facts
- Humans have been brushing their teeth with shells since at least the Ancient Greeks. (source) They crushed oyster shells into a tooth cleaning abrasive, similar to how modern toothpaste contains calcium carbonate (the main component of eggshells, gastropod shells, shellfish skeletons, and pearls).
- The rarest shell in the world is the white-toothed cowry – it is known from just two specimens. (source) Its only known locality is the Philippines’ Sulu Sea, where a specimen was found in the stomach of a fish in the 1960s.
- The biggest recorded seashell is over 5 feet long! (source) Measuring at 5 feet and .31 inches, the shell belonged to a Kuphus polythalamiu, a species of shipworm. Shipworms are a type of saltwater clam with long, soft, bare bodies. They are notorious for boring into and destroying wood that is immersed in water, such as piers, docks, and ships.
- Seashells sound like the ocean because they ‘catch’ sound. (source) The sound you hear when you press your ear to the a seashell is actually amplified background noise. The unique shape of shells tends to catch low-frequency sounds, like the ocean, wind, or the fridge. The sound bounces around inside the shell, becoming louder. That is why shells seem to capture low, rumbling background noise even when it is very quiet.