The Phylum, Mollusca is the second largest in the anima kingdom. There are five main classes, Gastropods, Bivalves, Scaphopoda, Amphineura and Cephalopoda.
Most sea-shells belong to either Gastropods or bivalves, the two main classes.
Gastropods have one piece shells that are usually coiled.
Bivalves have two-piece shells, normally hinged.
Scaphoda are the Tusk shells, so called as they look similar to small elephant tusks.
Amphineura includes uncommon shell-less molluscs and the Chitons, who have eight shelly plates joined by a tough girdle.
Cephalopoda includes Nautilus, Argonauts,( A on A-Z challenge) Squid and Octopus.
Gastropods are the most interesting for me, with all sorts of different shapes and sizes.
Almost all shells are right-handed, the shell is coiled in a clockwise direction so the opening will be on the right hand side, but like myself there are some left-handed ones around. Shank shells (Turbinellum Pyrum), Indo-pacific shells found around India and Sri Lanka fetch high sums of money when a left-handed one is found. They are considered sacred and can be seen in temples. Sadly, I don’t have a left-handed one.
On the Arabian peninsula Sinistralia gallagheri, first described in 1981 is found on Masirah Island, Oman. I do have some of these…
Gastropods were and still are, used as a food source. Ancient shell middens litter the plains at Barr Al Hickmann, Oman, and in Asia it is common to see molluscs in shells for sale at fish or night markets. Asian flavouring and stir frying suits the slightly rubbery taste.
Gastropods can be found in any sea-shore habitat, burrowing in sand, hiding in rock crevices, browsing on seaweeds or exposed to the sun and waves on rocks or reefs.
Here are a few of my favourite…