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Marine forms such as this fossilized specimen are the most common source of "sea shells" found washed up on beaches.

Shell less marine forms are seldom fossilized and are usually seen only by scuba divers but are often quite colorful!

3D Gastropod

Gastropods, especially land forms, are some of the most well known though not always the most highly revered of the molluscs.

Common folklore about the large marine varieties is that if you hold one of their shells against your ear you can hear the ocean. This, of course, is nonsense, what you actually hear is your own blood going through vessels near your ear. You can achieve the same effect with a coffee cup!

Land molluscs, also known as snails and slugs, though sometimes kept as pets or used as food for pets, are usually seen as pests. A wide variety of measures are used against them such as snail bait, which is very effective but can be deadly to dogs and sometimes to toddlers!

A more "hands on" method is to pour salt on them. This is favored by children and adolescents and is usually done more for amusement than for its practical value.

One of the most detested snails is also one of the most useful, the common garden snail, Helix aspersa. Though Helix pomatia is more often used for escargot, it was for this very purpose that Helix aspersa was imported to California by a french chef in the 1850s!

Wild Helix aspersa are still eaten today but most people see them as a pest. Though the yellow and brown striped variety is the most common, this species has many other varieties as well.

Measurements of the ancient gastropod

This specimen was from an $8 fossil kit. It came from Wyoming and is listed as being from the Eocene. This small specimen is probably from a species which often grew to a much larger size, similar to the species which are responsible for most "sea shells" tody.

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