26 April 2011

How to measure the volume of a snail shell

Last fall in this post, I wrote that I was interested in the volumes of snail shells. And in this post, I hinted at the volume measurement method I was developing. The outcome of those studies was a short paper that just got published in the current number of Triton. You may download a pdf version of it from here.

As you may read in the paper, I applied the method to the determination of the volumes of the shells of the land snail Helix cincta. That species has roughly globular shells and so shell volumes are expected to follow the power law V=cL3, where c is a constant and L is a linear shell dimension. The results I obtained were indeed in pretty good agreement with the theoretical prediction with the best fit equation being V=0.290D2.93 where D is the shell diameter. The figure is below.


I am now measuring the volumes of shells that have less globular shapes. Expect more posts on this subject in the future.

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