Laser Imaging Of Seashells Reveals Vast Record Of Past Climate Fluctuations

Source: Planck Society

Photo: Mandy Henry/Unsplash


Shellfish played a significant role in the diet of prehistoric coastal populations, providing valuable nutrients. They are a common find in archaeological sites all over the world, usually in huge numbers, and researchers have long explored how they could be used to make inferences about the environments that humans experienced at those locations in the past. However, although techniques were developed to infer valuable climate-related information from shells, it was previously too expensive to analyse them on a scale beyond individual and isolated records. The current study by an international team of researchers, led by the Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser (Heraklion, Greece) and the School of Geography (Melbourne, Australia) and published in Scientific Reports, presents a technique to use rapid laser imaging to increase the number of analysed shell records to previously unknown scales, and thereby greatly expand the time periods and accuracy of the reconstructed records.

Shells are a common find in archaeological coastal sites of the last 160,000 years

The present study aimed to test a new method by analysing modern shells for which there was known  data. The researchers used modern limpet shells from across the Mediterranean, comparing records from nine different sites in Greece, Libya, Tunisia, Croatia, Malta, Turkey and Israel.

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Photo: Mandy Henry/Unsplash

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