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Week 26: Tahitian shell necklace

What is this?

Where was it made?

What kind of animal did the shells come from?

Tahitian shell necklace

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What is this? Where was it made?

This is a necklace made from shells. It was brought from Tahiti and given to the Karshner museum in the 1930s. The shells came from Tahitian tree snails, which at the time were abundant, and were used traditionally for ceremonial decoration as well as jewelry in many parts of Polynesia.

What animal is used to make it?

Today the Tahitian tree snail is critically endangered. Since the 1970s their numbers have been decimated by the rosy wolfsnail, a snail that is very good at eating other snails. The rosy wolfsnail was introduced to control numbers of the African giant snail, which was introduced throughout Polynesia as a food source, but turned out to be itself a danger to crops.