at the Angela Marmont Centre, Natural History Museum
11:00: Exhibits and demonstrations
13:00: Lunch break
14:00: Talk by Dr Anna Maria Roos (University of Oxford): "Your curious wrong-turned snails" - chirality and the conchology of Martin Lister (1639-1712)."
Most early modern naturalists were indifferent to shell chirality, cheerfully printing illustrations of snails "the wrong-way around" or even including mirror images of them for decorative purposes in book illustrations. However, the English naturalist Martin Lister was an exception. Lister was the father of conchology (and of arachnology), and his first scientific paper for the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society contained two discoveries: the first was of the phenomenon of ballooning spiders, and the second the significance of sinistral snails, focusing on their reproductive habits and their chirality. Lister refuted several folk myths about the direction of snail coiling, and identified a species of sinistral snail. His interest in shell chirality and his realisation of its importance was also demonstrated in his masterwork: The Historiae Conchyliorum, in which he and his daughter-illustrators corrected a Rembrandt etching used as a model for their portrayal of Conus marmoreus or the marbled cone.
This talk will explore the context of Lister's works on chirality, and the exceptional history of his first paper which as submitted to the Royal Society anonymously and through an intermediary, as well as the priority dispute over scientific discovery which ensued.
Please bring plenty of exhibits and demonstration material; and please feel free to bring specimens of any Molluscs for identification. Binocular microscopes will be available if needed.