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Gastropod Facts

Information About Class Gastropoda - Snails, Sea Slugs, Sea Hares, Nudibranchs

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Gastropods are animals in the Class Gastropoda - the group of organisms that includes snails, slugs, limpets and sea hares. There are over 40,000 species in this class. Envision a sea shell, and you're thinking about a gastropod, although this class contains many shell-less animals as well.

Here is a round-up of information on gastropods, including their taxonomy, feeding, reproduction and examples of gastropod species.

1. Gastropods Are Mollusks

Picture of a blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) with a barnacle attached.
© Blue Ocean Society

Gastropods are animals in the Phylum Mollusca, the mollusks. This means they are at least distantly related to bivalves like clams and scallops and cephalopods like octopus and squid. Learn about the overall characteristics of mollusks - what their bodies look like, how they feed, reproduce and where they live.

2. Class Gastropoda Profile

Within the mollusks, gastropods are (of course) in the Class Gastropoda.  The Class Gastropoda includes snails, slugs, limpets and sea hairs - all animals referred to as 'gastropods.' Gastropods are mollusks, and a extremely diverse group that includes over 40,000 species. Envision a sea shell, and you're thinking about a gastropod, although this class contains many shell-less animals as well.

Here you can learn more about where gastropods live, how they feed and reproduce, and examples of gastropod species.

3. Conchs

Queen Conch / NOAA
Courtesy NOAA

Conchs are a type of sea snail, and are also a popular seafood in some areas. The term 'conch' (pronounced "konk") is used to describe over 60 species of sea snails which have a medium- to large-sized shell. In many species, the shell is elaborate and colorful.

One of the most well-known conch species (and gastropod species) is the queen conch, pictured here.

4. Whelks

Lightning Whelks / Bob Richmond, Flickr
Courtesy Bob Richmond, Flickr

Although you may not have known it, you've likely seen a whelk before. Whelks are what many people envision when they think of a 'sea shell.'

There are over 50 species of whelks. They are carnivorous, and eat mollusks, worms and crustaceans.

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