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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Mollusks Mollusks soft squishy slimy and in some cases tasty animals Mollusks have a soft body that may be protected by a hard shell Some mollusks have hard outer shells such as snails while others have a light internal shell squids or no shell at all octopuses There are three characteristics that all mollusks have in common First of all mollusks have a mantle This is their soft outer tissue layer The mantle in some species is what produces the hard outer shell Secondly mollusks have a muscular foot which they use to move or hang on The muscular foot appears in different ways on different mollusks Third between the mantle and the foot there is the visceral mass Most of the internal organs are located here There is one more characteristic that most but not all mollusks share This is an open circulatory system in which blood flows freely over body tissues and organs Although not all mollusks have separate sexes they all reproduce sexually Reproduction can involve internal or external fertilization Internal fertilization occurs when a male mollusk transfers sperm into the female mollusk After the eggs are fertilized the female deposits them in a safe place for them to grow External fertilization occurs when two mollusks release sperm and eggs into the water at the same time The four most well known classes of mollusks are Cephalopoda Gastropoda Polyplacophora and Bivalvia Class cephalopod includes nautilus squids cuttlefish and octopuses Modern cephalopods are very much the same as their ancestors They have very developed nervous systems and a closed circulatory system Gastropods include mollusks such as snails slugs and conches To feed gastropods scrape algae shred leaves or capture prey with their radula Some gastropods have destroyed millions of dollars in crops Polyplacophoras most closely resemble ancient mollusks Their shell is made of eight overlapping plates To feed they cling to rocky surfaces in
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