Although there are a number of books about land and freshwater mollusks, the majority of popular books emphasize, or focus exclusively on, the shells of marine mollusks. Shells of 3 species of Nautilus Only a few species of cephalopods have shells either internal or external that are sometimes found washed up on beaches.
On the other hand, some collectors buy the more widely available commercially imported exotic shells, the majority of which have very little data, or none at all.
Apart from any damage to the shell that may have happened before it was collected, shells can also suffer damage when they are stored or displayed. Each individual hermit crab is forced to find another gastropod shell on a regular basis, whenever it grows too large for the one it is currently using.
Spirula spirula is a deep water squid-like cephalopod. Some owners of shell collections hope to be able to donate their collection to a major natural history or zoology museum at some point, however, shells with little or no collecting data are usually of no value to science, and are likely not to be accepted by a major museum.
Some shell collectors find their own material and keep careful records, or buy only "specimen shells", which means shells which have full collecting data: Some hermit crab species live on land and may be found quite some distance from the sea, including those in the tropical genus Coenobita.
Seashells purchased from tourist shops or dealers may include various freshwater and terrestrial shells as well. Marine hermit crab Diogenes pugilatorusing a shell of the dog whelk Nassarius reticulatus Almost all genera of hermit crabs use or "wear" empty marine gastropod shells throughout their lifespan, in order to protect their soft abdomens, and in order to have a strong shell to withdraw into if attacked by a predator.
An ocellated spotted octopus using a clamshell as a shelter Small octopuses sometimes use an empty shell as a sort of cave to hide in, or hold seashells around themselves as a form of protection like a temporary fortress.
The largest group of shelled cephalopods, the ammonitesare extinct, but their shells are very common in certain areas as fossils. A large number of amateurs collect the shells of marine mollusks, and this is partly because many shells wash up empty on beaches, or live in the intertidal or sub-tidal zones, and are therefore easily found and preserved without much in the way of specialized equipment or expensive supplies.
Nautilus is the only genus of cephalopod that has a well-developed external shell. It is not clear whether these shell attachments serve as camouflageor whether they are intended to help prevent the shell sinking into a soft substrate. This can be confusing to collectors, as non-marine shells are often not included in their reference books.
Molluscan seashells used by other animals[ edit ] Empty molluscan seashells are a sturdy, and usually readily available, "free" resource which is often easily found on beaches, in the intertidal zoneand in the shallow subtidal zone.
Very often shells of bivalves or smaller gastropods are used, depending on what is available on the particular substrate where the snail itself lives. Polyplacophorans[ edit ] Loose valves or plates from Chiton tuberculatus from the beachdrift on the southeast coast of NevisWest Indies Chiton plates or valves often wash up on beaches in rocky areas where chitons are common.
Some species cannot be differentiated on the basis of shell character alone. Most species of xenophorids cement a series of objects to the rim of their shells as they grow. Plates from larger species of chitons are sometimes known as "butterfly shells" because of their shape.
The identification of certain individual species is often very difficult, even for a specialist in that particular family.
Both the science of studying mollusk shells and the hobby of collecting and classifying them are known as conchology. Numerous smaller and more obscure mollusk species see micromollusk are yet to be discovered and named.
For a few titles on this subject in the US, see the list of books at the foot of this article. Mollusks[ edit ] Carrier shells in the family Xenophoridae are marine shelled gastropods, fairly large sea snails.
Numerous Turritella gastropod shells washed up on a beach at Playa Grande, Costa Rica Certain species of gastropod seashells the shells of sea snails can sometimes be common, washed up on sandy beaches, and also on beaches that are surrounded by rocky marine habitat.Find great deals on eBay for sea shell.
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