JUN 13, 2018 10:19 AM PDT

The (Bio)chemistry of Seashells

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
DEC 09, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 09, 2019
Artificial "Bug Eyes" Made of Nanoparticles and Liquid Marbles
The term compound eye refers to the unique visual organs that can be found in many insects (hence the nickname "bug eyes"), as well as certain sp...
DEC 09, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
DEC 09, 2019
Understanding How Life Could Have Arisen From RNA
Around 4 billion years ago, scientists think that life arose, and they have been trying to learn more about how that happened...
DEC 09, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 09, 2019
Here's What We Know So Far About Titan's Liquid Methane Oceans
Titan is perhaps one of the most captivating moons orbiting Saturn today; so much so that astronomers spent a lot of time studying it when the Cassini miss...
DEC 09, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 09, 2019
Neutron Star Merger Fused Atomic Nuclei, Spilled Out Heavy Element
It is safe to say that we live in a world of hydrogen and helium, the lightest elements in the periodic table. Born minutes after the Big Bang, the two mak...
DEC 09, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 09, 2019
Cancer Therapy Agents Inspired by Solar Technology
In a recent study, a group of biomedical researchers at Michigan State University developed a new platform for tweaking light-activated dyes that can enable diagnostic imaging, image-guided s...
DEC 09, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 09, 2019
The Elements that Could Go "Extinct"?
Extinction doesn't just happen in the world of biology — it might also have to chemical elements. Our world of modern technologies relies on a lo...
Loading Comments...