Mechanical feedback in seashell growth and form


  • Alexander Erlich University of Manchester
  • Rowan Howell King’s College London
  • Alain Goriely University of Oxford.
  • Régis Chirat Universit´e Lyon 1
  • Derek E. Moulton University of Oxford



morphogenesis, morphomechanics, mathematical model, mollusc.


Mollusc seashells grow through the local deposition and calcification of material at the shell opening by a soft and thin organ called the mantle. Through this process, a huge variety of shell structures are formed. Previous models have shown that these structural patterns can largely be understood by examining the mechanical interaction between the deformable mantle and the rigid shell aperture to which it adheres. In this paper we extend this modelling framework in two distinct directions. For one, we incorporate a mechanical feedback in the growth of the mollusc. Second, we develop an initial framework to couple the two primary and orthogonal modes of pattern formation in shells, which are termed antimarginal and commarginal ornamentation. In both cases we examine the change in shell morphology that occurs due to the different mechanical influences and evaluate the hypotheses in light of the fossil record. doi:10.1017/S1446181118000019

Author Biographies

Alexander Erlich, University of Manchester

School of Mathematics, University of Manchester, UK.

Rowan Howell, King’s College London

Randall Division of Cell and Molecular Biophysics, King’s College London, UK.

Alain Goriely, University of Oxford.

Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

Régis Chirat, Universit´e Lyon 1

Universit´e Lyon 1, CNRS UMR 5276 LGL-TPE, France.

Derek E. Moulton, University of Oxford

Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.





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