What is an operculum?
Operculum means ‘little lid.’ What animal has a little lid?
A gastropod mollusc – a snail – has an operculum. It is like a trapdoor at the mouth of many sea snails and freshwater snails, and also in some land snails.
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The Common Periwinkle (Littorina littorea) is a small marine (saltwater) gastropod mollusc in the Littorinidae family of whelks and sea snails.
The Common Periwinkle has a thick, dark, grey-brown shell, that is sometimes banded. The inside of the shell is chocolate brown. It has 6-7 whorls. It has gills that enable it to breathe underwater. It has a lid on its shell, called an operculum.
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The Florida Horse Conch (Triplofusus papillosus) is a large tropical marine (saltwater) gastropod mollusc in the Fasciolariidae family of sea spindle snails and tulip snails. It is not a true conch shell from the Strombidae family of sea snails.
The Florida Horse Conch is greyish-white or brownish with a light-brown or dark-brown periostracum, which is the thin coating on its shell. It has a long siphonal canal and up to 10 whorls around its shell. It can retract the soft part of its body entirely into its shell and close the operculum (lid). The soft part of its body is bright orange.
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The Round Mouthed Snail (Pomatias elegans) is a small, air-breathing, terrestrial (land) gastropod mollusc in the Pomatiidae family of operculate land snails. It is an invertebrate, because it does not have a backbone. Its shell is its exo-skeleton (outside skeleton).
The Round Mouthed Snail has a thick, whitish, conical shell and wide mouth with a chalky operculum (lid) at the rear of its body. The shell forms a whorl. The top of the spire points upward and the opening of its mouth is on the right – so it has a right-handed whorl, which is called a dextral shell. It can close its shell’s mouth with its lid. Its head extends to form a snout (proboscis). It has only one pair of tentacles on its head (instead of two pairs). Its eyes are at the tip of the tentacles.
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The Slit Sea Snail (Perotrochus caledonicus or Mikadotrochus caledonicus) is a marine (saltwater) gastropod mollusc in the Pleurotomariidae family of slit snails. Gastropod means stomach-footed.
The Slit Sea Snail has gills and an operculum. The operculum is attached at the muscle to the upper surface of the back part of the snail’s body (called the foot). Its shell is conical with whorls (spirals) of orange-brown and yellow-cream. It has a slit (hole) which is small.
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The Sundial Sea Snail (Architectonica perspectiva) is a marine (saltwater) gastropod mollusc. It is also known as the Staircase Shell. Gastropod means stomach-footed.
The Sundial Sea Snail has a white to yellowish-brown cone-shaped shell, lighter at the edges, and lighter underneath. The spirals of the shell have shades of black, white, and brown. Its long thin body and tentacles are striped. It has a horny, dark-brown operculum. The operculum is attached at the muscle to the upper surface of the back part of the snail’s ‘foot.’
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The Golden Apple Snail (Pomacea canaliculata) is a freshwater South American snail. It is an aquatic gastropod mollusc (mollusk). It is also called the Channeled Apple Snail.
The Golden Apple Snail has a boneless foot with a brown globe-shaped shell, called a mantle. It has both external gills (like a fish) on the right-hand side of its body to enable it to breathe underwater, and an internal lung on the left-hand side of its body (like a frog) to enable it to breath on land. This means that the Golden Apple Snail lives in the water and on land – it is amphibious, like a frog or a toad. It also has an operculum, which is a little lid, that enables it to close the shell entrance to prevent it from drying out when it is buried in the mud during dry seasons.
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