We have all seen seashells; in fact many people have seashells in their homes on display. While we have all picked up, owned, or have seen seashells many of us don't know where they come from. Most of us find seashells when we are walking down the beach, in a store shopping for decorations, or when they are given to us by other people. Where do seashells come from? What are they? What purpose do seashells serve?
Seashells are quite simply a hard outer layer of a body that is developed by ever widening variety of animal species, most of which live in the oceans of the world. There are many different types of seashells including mollusks, crustaceans, and other microscopic organisms. In addition to sea shells there are also larger shells such as those that are found on turtles and tortoises, though they serve the same purpose as seashells, which is protection from predators and environment.
Seashells are usually made of up calcium carbonate, and when these shells are formed they can take many different shapes, colors, and textures. There are also different crystalline forms that can be created, such as nacre, which is known commonly as mother of pearl. While seashells are something that most of us take for granted, seashells are quite diverse, beautiful, and were once the part of living things.
Seashells are usually from marine mollusks, which belong to two different classes, or two different types of seashells. The first is gastropoda, which includes univalves or snails and bivalvia, which include bivalves such as clams, oysters, and scallops. The gastropoda seashells are the ones that you find that have just one piece to them and the bivalvia are those that have two pieces, often appearing to be hinged sea shells.
Seashells are Alive
What many people don't know about seashells is that sea shells are grown by shell growing mollusks that are very much alive. When the seashells are grown, the animal living in it repairs and maintains it with its mantle. Injuries to the shell can often be seen by differing colors within seashells, breaks in seashells, or different formations within sea shells.
Seashells are collected by an ever-growing number of people. In fact, the hobby of collecting seashells has even been given a name, which is conchology. The study of sea shells is known as Malacology, though these two terms related to seashells are often used interchangeably and many who study sea shells also collect them.
There are a wide variety of sea shells that have been given names and can easily be identified. The more fancy or fragile seashells are, the more difficult they are to find in one piece. Many of the sea shells that people find are very old have been washed up on beaches, and therefore the sea shells are not in the best condition. Those that want to find hard to locate sea shells often have to go diving for them, at which time they will find the sea shells are still inhabited by mollusks of one variety or another.