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gastropod, any member of much more than 65,000 animal types belonging come the class Gastropoda, the largest team in the phylum Mollusca. The course is made up of the snails, which have actually a shell into which the pet can usually withdraw, and also the slugs, which space snails who shells have been reduced to an internal fragment or fully lost in the food of evolution.

Gastropods are among the few groups of pets to have come to be successful in all three significant habitats: the ocean, new waters, and also land. A couple of gastropod varieties (such together conch, abalone, limpets, and whelks) are offered as food, and several different types may be used in the ready of escargot. Very couple of gastropod varieties transmit animal diseases; however, the flukes that reason human schistosomiasis use gastropods as intermediate hosts. The shells that some varieties are offered as accessories or in make jewelry. Some gastropods are scavengers, feeding top top dead plant or animal matter; others space predators; some room herbivores, feeding on algae or tree material; and also a couple of species are outside or internal parasites of other invertebrates.

General features

Size range and diversity of structure

Some adult marine snails (Homalogyra) and also forest-litter snails (Stenopylis, Punctum) are much less than one millimetre (0.04 inch) in diameter. In ~ the various other extreme, the largest land snail, the afri Achatina achatina, creates a covering that is virtually 20 centimetres (eight inches) long. The biggest freshwater snails, Pomacea from south America, reach almost 10 centimetres in diameter, and also the largest marine snail, the Australian Syrinx aruanus, occasionally grows to an ext than 0.6 metre (two feet). The longest snail more than likely is Parenteroxenos doglieli, which stays as a parasite in the body cavity that a sea cucumber: it grow to be practically 130 centimetres (50 inches) in length, although it is just 0.5 centimetre (0.2 inch) in diameter. Many snails are much smaller; more than likely 90 percent of all adult snails are less than one inch in best dimension.

Snails display a tremendous selection of shapes, based mostly upon the logarithmic spiral. They can be coiled flatly in one plane, as in Planorbis; become globose through the whorls enhancing rapidly in size, as in Pomacea; have actually the whorls become elongate and rapidly larger, as in Conus and Scaphella; have actually a few flatly coiled whorls the massively rise in width, together in Haliotis; end up being elongated and spike-shaped, as in Turritella; or it is in humped to kind a limpet shape, as in Fissurella. Frequently a number of such shell shapes can be found among varieties within a solitary family, but such marine family members as the Terebridae, Conidae, and Cypraeidae are conservative in shape. Shells that different types vary markedly in thickness, and those that many varieties bear conspicuous spines and also ridges, more than likely as an evolution adaptation to predation.


Traditionally, the three main gastropod teams are the prosobranchs (subclass Prosobranchia), the opisthobranchs (subclass Opisthobranchia), and also the pulmonates (subclass Pulmonata); however, many authorities classify the pulmonates together a subgroup within subclass Opisthobranchia. The prosobranchs typically secrete a comprehensive shell into which the pet can withdraw. The operculum, an regularly calcified disk situated on the rear component of the foot, filling the shell aperture as soon as the snail is within the shell, protecting the animal versus predation and desiccation. Opisthobranchs room marine species that often have a decreased or lacking shell and very colourful bodies. The pulmonates space snails and slugs that absence an operculum yet show complicated and extremely varied body structures. They have a “lung” or pulmonary cavity that serves likewise as a water reservoir. Gastropods have a fossil document that extends back over 500 million years.

Distribution and abundance

Of the more than 65,000 species, around 30,000 room marine, 5,000 live in fresh water, and 30,000 live top top land. In general, oceanic gastropods room most varied in variety of species and also in range of shell structures in dry waters; number of hundred types (each represented by a small variety of individuals) can be uncovered in a single coral reef habitat. This is in comparison to the Arctic or subarctic coasts, wherein the couple of species current are stood for by countless individuals. A variety of deep-sea varieties are known, and also a far-reaching snail fauna is linked with hydrothermal vents. Many marine species have big ranges.

Freshwater snails are common in ponds, streams, marshes, and also lakes. Usually only a couple of species are found at one place, however each species will have actually a rather wide range. Most species are common and feed on birds or dead tree matter. In a few relatively old river systems and lakes—in particular, Lake Baikal in Siberia, Lake Titicaca in southern America, Lake Ohrid on the phibìc Macedonia–Albania border, the Mekong basin in south-east Asia, and also the afri Rift lakes—extensive and complex radiations the snails have occurred in current geologic time, producing a huge number that species.

Land snails space marginally, but very successfully, terrestrial. When actively moving, castle continuously shed water. During periods when water is unavailable, lock retreat right into their shells and remain inactive until problems improve. Lock hibernate throughout winter periods, once water is locked right into snow or ice, and estivate throughout periods of summer drought. Soil snails have actually been found over the eye line; types of Vitrina crawl on snowbanks in Alpine meadows. Other species inhabit barren deserts where they should remain inactive because that years in between rains.

Fewer 보다 10 types live in the same area together across most of phibìc America. On the various other hand, in such favourable locations as new Zealand, Jamaica, northeastern India, and also the wet woodlands of Queensland (Australia) 30 to 40 different varieties can be found together. In some parts of western Europe 20 species can be found together. Only one or two varieties are discovered in numerous desert regions, and they have actually dramatic feeding specializations.

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The neighborhood abundance that snails and slugs deserve to be spectacular. Numerous some brackish-water and freshwater types can live on tiny mud flats. An acre of brothers farmland may organize 250,000 slugs, and also a Panamanian montane woodland was approximated to have 7,500,000 soil snails per acre. Regardless of this abundance, snails and also slugs frequently pass unobserved. Land and also freshwater types often stay hidden throughout the day and also are energetic at night. Most marine types as well are nocturnal, and also the shells of many of these types are so greatly covered through algae and other encrusting organisms that they might be mistaken for bits of rock.