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Free images of Animals - Molluscs  (Mollusks)

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Note:  There is some debate regarding the correct spelling of the vernacular name for the Mollusca phylum.  When was the name first used?  Which spelling is the oldest in literature, etc.  It is the current understanding that "mollusk" is the American spelling and "mollusc" is the British (Canadian) spelling.  If you want to read more about the debate, here is a great article from Gary Rosenberg at Conchologists of America, Inc(This link will take you out of the FreeTiiuPix website.)

 

What's the difference between a Mollusc and a Crustacean?

Arthropods, the group to which Crustaceans belong, is a large group of invertebrates - Molluscs is the second largest.  They both have - a muscular interior to facilitate movement; a digestive system with a mouth and other sense organs.  

Both Molluscs and Crustaceans may be found in fresh and salt water.  Both require a male and female to reproduce.  Finally, both go through various growth stages via metamorphosis, to achieve adulthood.  

While Arthropods have a hard exoskeleton made out of chitin,  Molluscs have shells as a protective covering.  Some Molluscs are easy to spot - look for those marine animals that have hinged two-part shells.

 

Which is Which?

 


Crustaceans

 

Barnacles
Crabs
Crawfish/Crayfish
Krill
Lobster
Prawns
Shrimp



Molluscs

(Also known as Shellfish)

Clams
Cuttlefish
Mussels
Octopus
Oysters
Scallops
Slugs
Snails
Squid
Winkles

 

Molluscs are members of the invertebrate (animals without backbones) phylum Mollusca.  This phylum contains over 100,000 species!  Note:  Molluscs are often called “shellfish”, but be careful to note that this popular terminology also applies to lobsters, crabs and prawns which are not molluscs.

 

Clams

Clam is the popular name for a two-shelled mollusk.  They can be found in fresh or salt water.  The two shells of a clam are held together with a hinge-like ligament.  Heavy muscles open and close the shells.

While clams do not have heads, arms or legs, they move via a fleshy, muscular organ similar to a foot.  If you quickly pick up a clam from the water, you may see the “foot” sticking out between the shells. 

Inside the shell of a clam are two tubes called siphons.  It is through the siphons that the clam eats and breathes.  The clam sucks up food particles through one siphon, passes them on to the digestive system, and spits out the water through the other siphon.

Freshwater clams, like the ones pictured below, have a number of different names which include:  freshwater pearly mussels, native freshwater mussels, naiads, or unionids.

 

Did you know... 

that the shells of clams were once made into buttons?  The shell is composed of three distinct layers:  a brownish outer skin, a middle rough layer of calcium, and a smooth inner layer called the “nacre” or “mother of pearl”. 

Unionids move very slowly and are only capable of moving less than 10 feet per day.


Freshwater clam shells on beach.

Freshwater Clam Shells - 2
These shells are still being held together by the strong hinge-like ligament.

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Freshwater clams and shells in shallow water.

Freshwater Clams - 3
The remnants of shells are strewn about the bottom of a Northern Ontario lake.

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Freshwater clam shells in water.

Freshwater Clams - 4
The remnants of shells are strewn about the bottom of a Northern Ontario lake.

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Freshwater clam shells on sand.

Freshwater Clams - 5
The remnants of eaten clams litter the beach.

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Freshwater clam shells on beach.

Freshwater Clams - 6
The remnants of eaten clams litter the beach.

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Trails in sandy lake bottom made by freshwater clams.

Freshwater Clams - 1
Something was going on here!?  The bottom of the lakebed was a maze of trails left behind
by moving clams.  Was it mating time?  Photographed in Northern Ontario. 

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Check out this great fact sheet from the Great Lakes Science Center, Michigan, all about 
North American Freshwater Clams 
(Note:  This link will take you outside the FreeTiiuPix website)

 

 

 

Did you know... .

that the same species of clam may have a variety of names depending upon their size?

Hard-Shell clams (Mercenaria mercenaria) are commonly known as "Littlenecks, Topnecks, Cherrystones" and "Chowders".  

 

Hard Shell Clam - 1

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Hard Shell Clam - 2

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Hard Shell Clam - 3

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Hard Shell Clam - 4

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Conch

Conch, also known as "whelk", are a type of sea snail.  While oysters and scallops have two shells that open and close, conch shells are all in one piece.  

Conches have a mild, sweet flavour and are commonly used to make conch fritters or conch chowder.

Did you know... 

The correct pronunciation of Conch is "konk".

 

Conch - 1

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Conch - 2

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Queen Conch

The Queen Conch [Strombus gigas] is a large, marine, gastropod mollusc that lives in sand, beds of sea grass and coral reefs found in warm, shallow water.  The images below are of a specimen found in the waters of Barbados.  The mollusc itself is a soft-bodied animal that is protected by a hard, external shell composed of calcium carbonate.  Queen Conchs have a spiral-shaped shell with a glossy pink or orange interior.

A Queen Conch has grown to its full size at about 3-5 years.  It grows to a maximum of about 12 inches and weighs in at 5 pounds.  Its lifespan is generally between 20-30 years, but estimated to be up to 40 years.

 

queen conch shell mollusk pink orange spiral

Queen Conch - 1

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shell of queen conch shiny pink orange

Queen Conch - 2

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Queen conchs are harvested for meat and their shells.  They are a threatened species used also for jewelry and tourist souvenirs.

 

interior of queen conch shell pink orange

Queen Conch - 3

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two queen conch shells

Queen Conch - 4

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queen conch shells pink orange

Queen Conch - 5

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two large queen conch mollusk shells pink orange

Queen Conch - 6

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Mollusc Image Pages  [1]   [2]

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