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Ocean Currents

12 Incredible Historical Illustrations of Shells

Many of these scientific illustrations of shells are hundreds of years old

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From "Illustrations of the shells of molluscous animals," 1843-1878 © COURTESY OF BIODIVERSITY HERITAGE LIBRARY

Historical illustrations give us a glimpse into the scientific research of the past—and they can be very cool to look at!

We can view thousands of historical illustrations of marine life thanks to the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL). The BHL is the largest open-access digital library for biodiversity archives. They work with libraries around the world to offer millions of books dating back to the 15th century for free. The library is not only an incredible source of data for scientists—it brings scientific art into the homes of people around the world.

Previously, we dug through the BHL archives to bring you some of our favorite ocean, shark and cephalopod illustrations from the 18th and 19th centuries. Now, in honor of the summer beach season, we’re bringing you our favorite shell illustrations from the BHL!

You can explore the BHL too, by visiting their website and Flickr page.

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From "Illustrations of the shells of molluscous animals," 1843-1878 © COURTESY OF BIODIVERSITY HERITAGE LIBRARY
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From "Introduction to the study of conchology," 1825 © COURTESY OF BIODIVERSITY HERITAGE LIBRARY
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From "Conchyliologie minéralogique de la Grande Bretagne," 1837-1845 © COURTESY OF BIODIVERSITY HERITAGE LIBRARY
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From "Illustrations of the shells of molluscous animals," 1843-1878 © COURTESY OF BIODIVERSITY HERITAGE LIBRARY
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© COURTESY OF BIODIVERSITY HERITAGE LIBRARY
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From "Illustrations of the shells of molluscous animals," 1843-1878 © COURTESY OF BIODIVERSITY HERITAGE LIBRARY
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© COURTESY OF BIODIVERSITY HERITAGE LIBRARY
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From "Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London," 1833-1965 © COURTESY OF BIODIVERSITY HERITAGE LIBRARY
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From "The conchological miscellany of Sylvanus Hanley," 1854-1858 © COURTESY OF BIODIVERSITY HERITAGE LIBRARY
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From "Illustrations of the shells of molluscous animals," 1843-1878 © COURTESY OF BIODIVERSITY HERITAGE LIBRARY
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From "Diccionario dos termos technicos de historia natural," 1788 © COURTESY OF BIODIVERSITY HERITAGE LIBRARY

 

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