JUN 13, 2018 10:19 AM PDT

The (Bio)chemistry of Seashells

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

The ingredient of seashells is mostly calcium carbonate, the same chemical you can find in limestone, eggs shells, and gastric antacid pills. Depending on how the atoms are arranged within materials, the resulted density and structure can be entirely different. 

For example, calcite is a mineral with a trigonal crystal structure and it is among the most stable polymorph of calcium carbonate; aragonite is another common carbonate mineral. It has naturally occurring crystals that form orthorhombic lattices.  

The secretion of protein matrix is the first step for animals like the bivalve mollusks to form their shells. These proteins direct the calcification process through binding the calcium cations in the water. The binding allows seashells to grow a crystal lattice pattern that is unique to the species. What's more, the timing and spot of the protein secretion also determine the type of calcium carbonate crystal formed. 

Source: ACSReaction via Youtube

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
You May Also Like
JUN 15, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
DNA May Soon Become a Digital Storage Device
JUN 15, 2021
DNA May Soon Become a Digital Storage Device
We live in an age of information and data, and more is being generated every day. It's estimated that there are about te ...
JUL 16, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Climate Change Causes Carbon Loss in Soil & Root Problems in Plants
JUL 16, 2021
Climate Change Causes Carbon Loss in Soil & Root Problems in Plants
Concerns about runaway climate change and tipping points of no return are constant sources of fear in our warming world. ...
AUG 03, 2021
Neuroscience
A Tree Falls in the Forest: A Neuroscientist on the World Our Brain Creates
AUG 03, 2021
A Tree Falls in the Forest: A Neuroscientist on the World Our Brain Creates
Neuroscientist, Donald Hoffman, thinks a mathematical model will solve the hard problem of consciousness
AUG 26, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
The Most Detailed Map of the Andromeda Galaxy taken by Radio Telescope
AUG 26, 2021
The Most Detailed Map of the Andromeda Galaxy taken by Radio Telescope
Sitting at 2.5 million light-years away, the Andromeda Galaxy is the closest galaxy to our own Milky Way. Since it&rsquo ...
SEP 16, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Under Pressure: Physicists Discover New Property of Black Holes and Quantum Gravity
SEP 16, 2021
Under Pressure: Physicists Discover New Property of Black Holes and Quantum Gravity
Two physicists at the University of Sussex have made a startling discovery about black holes: they exert a pressure on t ...
SEP 24, 2021
Earth & The Environment
We've Killed Half the World's Coral
SEP 24, 2021
We've Killed Half the World's Coral
A recent study published in One Earth on Sep. 17 paints a poor picture for the state of the world’s coral reefs. L ...
Loading Comments...