Seashell growth and morphology

Dr. Derek Moulton (University of Oxford)

Thursday 16th May, 2013 14:00-15:00 Maths 204


Seashells have intrigued scientists and mathematicians alike for centuries.  Mathematical descriptions of the basic logarithmic shell shape have been provided from as early as the 1830's.  However, the developmental mechanisms underlying shell growth are largely not understood and the ubiquitous presence of ornamentation such as ribs, tubercles, or spines presents yet another level of difficulty.  I will present a mathematical model for shell morphogenesis that attempts to illuminate these issues.  The model is based on the local geometry and mechanics of the growth process, and I demonstrate how simple local interactions can give rise to the beautiful and intricate global structures seen in shells.

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