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Phylum mollusca

Phylum Mollusca    is the predominant phylum in marine environments. It is estimated that 23 percent of all known marine species are mollusks; there are over 75,000 described species, making them the second most diverse phylum of animals. The name “mollusca” signifies a soft body, since the earliest descriptions of mollusks came from observations of unshelled cuttlefish. Mollusks are predominantly a marine group of animals; however, they are known to inhabit freshwater as well as terrestrial habitats. Mollusks display a wide range of morphologies in each class and subclass, but share a few key characteristics, including a muscular foot, a visceral mass containing internal organs, and a mantle that may or may not secrete a shell of calcium carbonate ( [link] ).

Art connection

The illustration shows a cross-section of a snail. The body of the snail is called the visceral mass. The mouth leads to a crop, then to the stomach, which is toward the back of the animal. The intestines are located above the stomach. The intestines continue forward, and empty into a cavity above the front part of the visceral mass. Two nerve cords wrap around the esophagus and extend back along the bottom of the animal. The gill is located in the cavity in the shell, and connects to the heart in the visceral mass. The coelom is near the heart. The visceral mass is surrounded by a mantle. A shell covers the mantle.
There are many species and variations of mollusks; this illustration shows the anatomy of an aquatic gastropod.

Which of the following statements about the anatomy of a mollusk is false?

  1. Mollusks have a radula for grinding food.
  2. A digestive gland is connected to the stomach.
  3. The tissue beneath the shell is called the mantle.
  4. The digestive system includes a gizzard, a stomach, a digestive gland, and the intestine.

Mollusks have a muscular foot, which is used for locomotion and anchorage, and varies in shape and function, depending on the type of mollusk under study. In shelled mollusks, this foot is usually the same size as the opening of the shell. The foot is a retractable as well as an extendable organ. The foot is the ventral-most organ, whereas the mantle is the limiting dorsal organ. Mollusks are eucoelomate, but the coelomic cavity is restricted to a cavity around the heart in adult animals. The mantle cavity develops independently of the coelomic cavity.

The visceral mass is present above the foot, in the visceral hump. This includes digestive, nervous, excretory, reproductive, and respiratory systems. Mollusk species that are exclusively aquatic have gills for respiration, whereas some terrestrial species have lungs for respiration. Additionally, a tongue-like organ called a radula    , which bears chitinous tooth-like ornamentation, is present in many species, and serves to shred or scrape food. The mantle    (also known as the pallium) is the dorsal epidermis in mollusks; shelled mollusks are specialized to secrete a chitinous and hard calcareous shell.

Most mollusks are dioecious animals and fertilization occurs externally, although this is not the case in terrestrial mollusks, such as snails and slugs, or in cephalopods. In some mollusks, the zygote hatches and undergoes two larval stages— trochophore    and veliger    —before becoming a young adult; bivalves may exhibit a third larval stage, glochidia.

Classification of phylum mollusca

Phylum Mollusca is a very diverse (85,000 species) group of mostly marine species. Mollusks have a dramatic variety of form, ranging from large predatory squids and octopus, some of which show a high degree of intelligence, to grazing forms with elaborately sculpted and colored shells. This phylum can be segregated into seven classes: Aplacophora, Monoplacophora, Polyplacophora, Bivalvia, Gastropoda, Cephalopoda, and Scaphopoda.

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
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