Mighty Mollusks Communicate Using Shells

Mollusks may not be the most adorable or popular creatures, but they are very interesting to study none the less.

Invertebrates whose name means “soft” in Latin, mollusks have over 100,000 species alive today. These creatures are found in almost any marine habitat on Earth. While there are seven diffrent classes of mollusk (Monoplacophora, Scaphopoda, Aplacophora, Cephalopoda, Polyplacophora, Bivalvia, and Gastropoda), almost all of them have a outter shell for protection.

Mollusks vary vastly in size, shape, and weight: this helps them best survive in their unique habitats. Some mollusks are known for their whorled shells, which not only protect them and help them float in the water. Others are known for their tentacles, which help them grab onto escaping prey.

To eat, most mollusks use a tongue called a radula, which has little teeth that scrape small animals off of surfaces that are difficult to reach. Others known as “filterfeeders” have internal filters, and are called filter feeders, to sort out food particles for them to eat. One way mollusks hunt is by stealthily sneaking up on their prey and attacking without warning. Other times, they pursue prey head-on and overrun or latch onto it. Both ways are equally effective.

Mollusks may not have pretty shells, but these shells offer more than protection— the color of a mollusk shell's actually helps it communicate. Communication is very important for mollusk: they need to alert each other if danger is coming. Mollusk shells are made out of a material called calcium carbonate. A mollusk's skin, called a mantle lets out a liquid that eventually hardens around them, thus forming the shell. As the mollusk inside the shell grows, the shell develops more whorls, which are the swirls visible in a shell. The colors of a mollusks shell can be served as camouflage from predators and are very helpful in the game of survival.

Most people do not know much about the strange group of creatures called “mollusks.” But, if you can get passed their unattractive shells, you'll find that mollusks are truly resourceful, amazing animals!

[Sources: Google Encyclopedia; Mollusks Weebly; OceanicReasearch.org; Conchologists Of America.org]