Wednesday, July 22, 2009
WHAT IS THE WSM?
You may wonder, "What is a malacologist?" It's someone who studies mollusks, snails, clams, squids, that sort of thing. Then you might ask, "What is the Western Society of Malacologists?" Looking at our web site at http://biology.fullerton.edu/wsm/ you will find that the WSM is a group of professionals, amateurs, and students interested in molluscan research. We just enjoy studying these incredible creatures! Our area of focus is mainly the northeastern Pacific and adjacent lands, including marine, land, fresh water, live and dead animals and their remains (shells).
As a group, we cover a wide variety of topics dealing with mollusks: the shapes, sizes and locations of some strange creatures; what they do; what they eat and who eats them. We examine the functional adaptations they have evolved for defense and survival; their colors, their spines, their poisons. We describe new species, previously unknown to science, adding to the understanding of the biodiversity of sea and land. Which are in danger of extinction, because of habitat loss, overcollecting, or global climatic changes? Also of interest (to the paleontologists) are groups of molluscs that have lived hundreds of millions of years ago---many long before dinosaurs even existed.
Some of us study archaeology, paleontology and art, looking at the relationships between humans and mollucs. Of course, all of us enjoy eating some of the more tasty ones. Squirting lime juice on a freshly-caught clam, in the shade of a palapa on the beaches of Mexico, is certainly part of our studies!
To be honest, anything we find interesting, we will study. Or we will look for something interesting that no one knows about. I hope you'll come back and see what members of our group are working on.
That's the point of this blog. Enjoy and join our search!