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Mother of Pearl Mother of pearl or nacre, such as this from a New Zealand Paua shell, is one of nature's wonder materials. Made by a host of mollusks, the material has proven to be an accurate barometer of environmental conditions as signatures of both water temperature and water depth reside in the material, according to new research by UW-Madison professor of physics and chemistry Pupa Gilbert. Given that nacre is abundant in the fossil record, going back as far as 450 million years, the new research suggests that fossil nacre could be used as a "paleothermometer," and provide detailed information about ancient climate and environmental change.
Image credit: Pupa Gilbert
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