Geerat Vermeij, Evolutionary Biologist: Reading A Shell’s Story


Geerat Vermeij observes—with his fingers—mollusc defense strategies as revealed by the design of their shells. For him, shell defense design is analogous to aircraft designed to protect occupants.

Next Generation Science Standards for this Video

Shells are the ultimate adaptation to defend a soft mollusc body from predation. But there is an arms war as predators adapt ways to break the molluscan shell.

Geerat Vermeij is blind and uses his sense of touch to study the shells of molluscs.

Geerat Vermeij observes mollusc defense strategies.

Geerat Vermeij describes the evolution of mollusk shells as an “arms race” with predators.

Scientist in this video

All organisms endure an arms race. We have bacteria and antibiotics, that's kind of an arms race. We have shells and shell-breaking predators, that's a classic arms race. Everything in biology really is an arms race. -- Geerat Vermeij