American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History

5 Gorgeous Old Pictures of Seashells

American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History

Fun fact: The American Museum of Natural History’s Department of Conchology started with a donation of 50,000 shells from John Clarkson Jay, grandson of founding father John Jay, in 1874. Today, the museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology contains approximately 350,000 molluscan specimens, which came from both scientific expeditions and private donations. But the museum also has a pretty interesting shell resource: Its Rare Book room, which includes over 14,000 volumes. This is where the museum turned to create its new boxset, The Seashell Collector, which has adjustable/removable dividers to help store and display shells, 15 postcards, a journal, and a booklet with illustrations and information. Here’s just a taste of the beautiful images you’ll find in the set.

1. Nautilus

This image, created by engraver G.W. Knorr, appeared in the 1757 book Vergnügen der Augen und des Gemüths… (Pleasure of the Eyes and the Mind), published from 1757-72. The nautilus is an Indo-West Pacific species that feeds on fish and crustaceans, and, according to The Seashell Collector, “nearly perfectly approximates the logarithmic spiral, which was first described mathematically in 1638 by French philosopher/mathematician Rene Descartes. The logarithmic spiral’s curve has the unique property of maintaining its shape as its size increases, a property that is elegantly manifested in the shape of the nautilus shell.”

2. Great Atlantic Sea Scallop (Pecten maximus)

Also called the St. James shell, you can find the great Atlantic scallop—the largest scallop in Europe—in the lower right hand corner of this illustration, which comes from French naturalist Jean Charles Chenu’s Illustrations conchyliologiques ou description et figures de toutes les coquilles. In nature, these filter feeders are found at depths up to 820 feet in the Mediterranean and in the eastern Atlantic from Portugal to Angola. According to The Seashell Collector, “The shell of St. James became the emblem of pilgrims visiting the apostle’s tomb at Santiago de Compostela in Spain, and a mark of devotion in medieval church carvings and illuminated manuscripts.”

3. Clear Sundial Snail (Architectonica perspectiva)

This sea snail is found in sandy waters across the Indo-Pacific, according to The Seashell Collector, and its shell “has beautiful spirals in white, black and brown ... the body of the snail perfectly matches the patterns on the shell.” Scientists believe the snail eats sea anemones and sea pens. This illustration appeared in malacologist L.C. Keiner’s 12-volume series Species general et iconographie des coquilles vivantes…, published from 1834 to 1880.

4. Miscellaneous marine snail shells

This illustration appeared in Le conchyliologie, or Histoire naturelle des coquilles de mer… by Antoine-Joseph Dezallier d’ Argenville and published in 1780.

5. Queen Conch (Lobatus gigas)

These animals can grow to be a foot long and weigh up to 5 pounds—so it makes sense that part of their name would be gigas, which is Latin for giant. They can live up to 40 years and are found in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, and in the Atlantic from Bermuda to Brazil. This illustration appeared in Chenu’s Illustrations conchyliologiques ou description et figures de toutes les coquilles; you can see a live one in action here.

All images courtesy the American Museum of Natural History.

5 Subtle Cues That Can Tell You About Your Date's Financial Personality

Being financially compatible with your partner is important, especially as a relationship grows. Fortunately, there are ways you can learn about your partner’s financial personality in a relationship’s early stages without seeing their bank statement or sitting them down for “the money talk.”

Are they a spender or a saver? Are they cautious with money? These habits can be learned through basic observations or casual questions that don’t feel intrusive. Here are some subtle things that can tell you about your date’s financial personality.


Casual conversations about finance-related topics can be very revealing. Does your date know if their employer matches their 401(k) plan contributions? Do you find their answers to any financial questions a bit vague—even the straightforward ones like “What are the rewards like on your credit card?” This could mean that your partner is a little fuzzy on some of the details of their financial situation.

As your connection grows, money talks are only natural. If your date expresses uncertainty about their monthly budget, it may be an indicator that they are still working on the best way to manage their finances or don’t keep close tabs on their spending habits.


If you notice your partner is always watching business news channels, thumbing through newspapers, or checking share prices on their phone, they are clearly keeping abreast of what’s going on in the financial world. Ideally, this would lead to a well-informed financial personality that gives way to smart investments and overall monetary responsibility.

If you see that your date has an interest in national and global finances, ask them questions about what they’ve learned. The answers will tell you what type of financial mindset to expect from you partner moving forward. You might also learn something new about the world of finance and business!


You may be able to learn a lot about someone’s financial personality just by asking what they usually do for dinner. If your date dines out a lot, it could be an indication that they are willing to spend money on experiences. On the other hand, if they’re eating most of their meals at home or prepping meals for the entire week to cut their food budget, they might be more of a saver.


Money is a source of stress for most people, so it’s important to observe if financial anxiety plays a prominent role in your date’s day-to-day life. There are a number of common financial worries we all share—rising insurance rates, unexpected car repairs, rent increases—but there are also more specific and individualized concerns. Listen to how your date talks about money and pick up on whether their stress is grounded in worries we all have or if they have a more specific reason for concern.

In both instances, it’s important to be supportive and helpful where you can. If your partner is feeling nervous about money, they’ll likely be much more cautious about what they’re spending, which can be a good thing. But it can also stop them from making necessary purchases or looking into investments that might actually benefit them in the future. As a partner, you can help out by minimizing their expenses for things like nights out and gifts in favor of less expensive outings or homemade gifts to leave more of their budget available for necessities.


Does your date actually look at how much they’re spending before handing their credit card to the waiter or bartender at the end of the night? It’s a subtle sign, but someone who looks over a bill is likely much more observant about what they spend than someone who just blindly hands cards or cash over once they get the tab.

Knowing what you spend every month—even on smaller purchases like drinks or dinner—is key when you’re staying on a budget. It’s that awareness that allows people to adjust their monthly budget and calculate what their new balance will be once the waiter hands over the check. Someone who knows exactly what they’re spending on the small purchases is probably keeping a close eye on the bigger picture as well.


While these subtle cues can be helpful signposts when you’re trying to get an idea of your date’s financial personality, none are perfect indicators that will be accurate every time. Our financial personalities are rarely cut and dry—most of us probably display some behaviors that would paint us as savers while also showing habits that exclaim “spender!” By relying too heavily on any one indicator, we might not get an accurate impression of our date.

Instead, as you get to know a new partner, the best way to learn about their financial personality is by having a straightforward and honest talk with them. You’ll learn more by listening and asking questions than you ever could by observing small behaviors.

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Where Do Birds Get Their Songs?

Birds display some of the most impressive vocal abilities in the animal kingdom. They can be heard across great distances, mimic human speech, and even sing using distinct dialects and syntax. The most complex songs take some practice to learn, but as TED-Ed explains, the urge to sing is woven into songbirds' DNA.

Like humans, baby birds learn to communicate from their parents. Adult zebra finches will even speak in the equivalent of "baby talk" when teaching chicks their songs. After hearing the same expressions repeated so many times and trying them out firsthand, the offspring are able to use the same songs as adults.

But nurture isn't the only factor driving this behavior. Even when they grow up without any parents teaching them how to vocalize, birds will start singing on their own. These innate songs are less refined than the ones that are taught, but when they're passed down through multiple generations and shaped over time, they start to sound similar to the learned songs sung by other members of their species.

This suggests that the drive to sing as well as the specific structures of the songs themselves have been ingrained in the animals' genetic code by evolution. You can watch the full story from TED-Ed below, then head over here for a sample of the diverse songs produced by birds.

[h/t TED-Ed]


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