Classifying Seashells


Marine mollusk variety

I am not in love with science.  I call my shells by their common names and pay little attention to the Latin names and don’t really care which “family” they belong to, but I realize that some people might.

So this is my attempt to explain the classification of seashells, beginning with the “Class”.

The variety of sea shells is amazingly huge.  I can’t imagine having to organize shells into groups and since the same types can look very different depending on their colors, size and age, but each type has been assigned a “class”.

The class is fairly simple to figure out since each has it’s obvious differences.

Gastropods : Snail type shells that curl around and are all in one piece (univalves).
Bivalves: Shells that come in two parts, such as a clams and oysters.
Cephalopods: Mollusks without shells (mostly – the nautilus is a cephalopod), such as the squid and octopus.
Tusk Shells or Scaphopods: tusk or tooth looking shells.
Chitons: Flattened and plated, very primitive looking.

Sand dollars, sea urchins and sea cucumbers are Echinoderms and not mollusks or seashells.

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