25 September 2007

Introductory books on snails

A reader left this comment at one of last week's posts:

I've just come across your blog and though I'm more of a palaeontology afficando, I find myself really wanting to learn more about snails. But I really have no idea where to start. Do you have any book or website recommendations for a non-expert on snails?

If you want to learn more about snails, read Snail's Tales!

There really are no recent, good technical books on snails suitable for beginners with a scientific background. Nevertheless, you may want to take a look at the following:

G.M. Barker, editor. 2001. The Biology of Terrestrial Molluscs.
Overpriced! Check it out from a library and photocopy it! There are no excuses in this case. Otherwise, there are some good articles, but they may be difficult to follow for someone with no relevant background.

Geerat J. Vermeij. 1993. A Natural History of Shells.
It is almost entirely about the evolutionary aspects of shell structure and construction pertinent to marine mollusks and being so it won't teach you much about the mollusks' soft parts or their biology or terrestrial gastropods.

Alan Solem. 1974. The Shell Makers - Introducing Mollusks.
Although it is old and somewhat outdated, it still is a useful source. But beware of Solem's many debatable speculations!

Sturm, Pearce and Valdés, editors. 2006. The Mollusks.
This book will teach you mostly about various techniques useful to collect and study mollusks. My review of it is here.

Moore, Lalicker & Fischer. 1952. Invertebrate Fossils.
Chapter 8 is about gastropods. Although it is more than 50 years old, there is good, basic information about shell morphology with emphasis on fossils, although some of the taxonomy is undoubtedly out of date. Nevertheless, this may be a good starting point for a palaeontologist, but, again, there is very little biology and anatomy.

I recently noticed the lack of a good introductory technical book on terrestrial gastropods and started writing one myself. It will be a while before it gets published, though. But, in the meantime, allow me to repeat, if you want to learn more about snails, keep reading Snail's Tales!


Anonymous said...

I would be interested in learning how to collect and keep terrestrial mollusks. How might one contact you?

I must be daft, but I could not find a contact area.

Charles said...

Read Aydin's chapters (Chapters 22 and 23) in The Mollusks: A Guide to Their Study, Collection, and Preservation edited by Sturm, Pearce, and Valdes. If he doesn't answer your questions here, then write to him.

I have been raising a land snail for over 5 years following the info in his chapter.

C. Sturm


You may download both of those chapters from my library: