Glowing Seashells

Three fossil shells shown under regular light (top row), ultraviolet light (middle row), and as reversed images (bottom row) that reconstruct what the revealed shell coloration patterns would have looked like when the snails were alive.

In the 1960’s, paleontologist Axel Olsson discovered that the original coloration patterns of fossil seashells may sometimes be revealed using ultraviolet light. I have recently been employing this approach to characterize the ancient coloration patterns of tropical American Neogene cone snail fossils. My first paper on this research was recently published in the open access journal PLoS ONE and focuses on fossil shells from the Dominican Republic. This research was covered by a number of media outlets, including the Washington PostMotherboardSmithsonian, and CNET.

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