Dentalium shells - what they are
=93Tooth shells, occasionally called tusk shells, members of the class
Scaphopoda, represent a sideline in molluscan evolution. There are
about 350 living species, all of which are found in ocean waters.
The shell, which looks like a miniature elephant=92s tusk, is open at
both ends. The narrow end often protrudes above the mud or sand in
which the animal lives. =85a combination of ciliary action and
muscular contractions of the foot circulates water and expels waste
materials from the narrow end of the shell. Both head and foot can
be extended from the broad end of the shell. The foot . . .is used
to raise or lower the animal in the substrate to a point where food
is available=85…Long tentacles with expanded clublike disks on their
ends=85.pull organic debris or small protozoans (which are eventually
passed inside the shell to the mouth).=94
(There=92s a lot more, if you reeeeaally want to know. . .)
=93In Northwestern North America a common species, Dentalium
indianorum, was used as money by several Indian tribes.=94
From =93The Shell Makers=94, by Dr. Alan Solem, Curator of
Invertebrates, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago.
Someone mentioned tentacles: you=92re right. Although possessing
tentacles, Scaphopoda are not the same class as Cephalopods, which
are squids, cuttlefish, nautilids, and octopuses (yes, octopuses,
The color in Dentalium shells (which someone asked about) has the
same source as the color in most other shells: the food the animal
eats (like pink flamingos and shrimp). Waste products are excreted
both directly, and into the shell. Color fades after death, as with
all shells, usually by sun bleaching. A colorful shell usually means
it was harvested alive, not washed up on the beach.
O.K., I=92m going back to the studio now.