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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A seashell, also known as a sea shell, or simply as a shell, is the common name for a hard, protective outer layer, a shell, or in some cases a "test", that was created by a sea creature, a marine organism. The shell is part of the body of a marine animal. In most cases a shell is an exoskeleton, usually that of an animal without a backbone, an invertebrate. Seashells are most often found on beaches.

The word seashell is most often used to mean the shells of marine mollusks, i.e. mollusk shells. It can however also be used to mean the shells of a wide variety of other marine animals from various different phyla. For helpful introductory articles, see marine invertebrates and marine biology.

As well as marine mollusks, many other kinds of sea animals have exoskeletons or even internal shells which sometimes, after death, wash up on the beach and may be picked up by beachcombers. These shells include remains from species in other invertebrate phyla, such as the moulted shells or exuviae of crabs and lobsters, the shells of barnacles, horseshoe crab shells, the tests (endoskeletons) of sea urchins, sand dollars and seastars, brachiopod shells, and the shells of marine annelid worms in the family Serpulidae, which create calcareous tubes cemented onto other surfaces.

Seashells have been admired, studied and used by humans for many different purposes throughout history and pre-history.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Seashell" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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