The 3D-effect in photomicrography –

Anaglyphs of recent tropical gastropod shells


Robert Sturm, Austria





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he investigation of gastropod shells represents a thrilling feature of biological work due to the enormously high variability of shapes, patterns and colours. Since Aristoteles, human fascination on mollusc biology and ecology has continuously increased, and it was Georges Cuvier (1769-1832), who for the first time described a comparative anatomy among the whole phylum of the mollusca, thereby dividing the mollusc body into its well-known parts (head, foot, and visceral lump). Besides the research of mollusc biology itself, there has also been established a specific field of scientific investigation solely dealing with the morphology of gastropod and bivalve shells. This science is called conchyliology and has also aroused the interest of non-scientists during the last decades. Unfortunately some people have concentrated their holiday activities on sampling as many shells as possible, and in some cases also living animals have been killed for obtaining their shells. It has to be clearly mentioned that most gastropods and bivalves are highly protected (most of them are included in the national Red Lists of endangered animals), so that only a moderate sampling of empty shells on the beach is justified.

Due to their variable shape, which may be also characterized by the formation of bizarre extensions (an example for that is exhibited on plate 3), gastropod shells are preferred objects for stereophotography. This photographic technique, where the object of desire is photographed from two closely related positions, allows us to create three dimensional images, whereby the spatial impression can be only percepted by using stereographic glasses. In the present contribution, four plates showing stereograms or anaglyphs of diverse tropical gastropod shells are presented. In some cases, it is necessary to fix the object for some seconds, because the eyes have to adapt to the stereographic effect. Spatial impression can be also obtained from prints of the images.



Selected anaglyphs of tropical gastropod shells



Plate 1


Left: Strombus (Canarium) urceus Linnaeus 1758, “White mouth”,

         height: 45 millimetres.

Middle: Lyria mitraeformis (Lamarck 1811), height: 40 millimetres.


Right: Mauritia histrio (Gmelin 1791), length: 56 millimetres.





Plate 2


Left: Rhinoclavis vertagus (Linnaeus 1758), height: 64


Middle: Strombus (Laevistrombus) canarium Linnaeus 1758,

         height: 50 millimetres.

Right: Turbo (Marmarostoma) chrysostomus Linnaeus 1758,

        “Gold-mouthed Turban Shell”, height: 52 millimetres.





Plate 3


Hexaplex cichoreus (Gmelin 1791), “Endive Murex”, back and front view, height: 95 millimetres.
















Plate 4


Left: Angaria delphinus (Linnaeus 1758), “Dolpin Shell”, 
        diameter: 50 millimetres (bottom view).

Middle: Strombus (Conomurex) luhuanus Linnaeus 1758,

        height: 60 millimetres.

Right: Turbo (Batillus) cornutus Lightfoot 1786,

       “Horned Turban”, height: 50 millimetres.



The author highly acknowledges any response or questions concerning the shells or the production of the stereograms. You can contact the author under the following E-mail address.


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Published in the November 2005 edition of Micscape.

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