Russell-Hunter, W. D. Department of Biology, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York.
Last reviewed:June 2021
- Functional morphology
- Mantle-shell and body form
- Ctenidia and pallial complex
- Cardiac and renogenital complex
- Ciliary sorting and gut function
- Nervous system
- Distributional ecology
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A major phylum of the animal kingdom comprising a diverse group of unsegmented, soft-bodied invertebrates. The phylum Mollusca is one of the most significant groupings of invertebrate animals. Members of the Mollusca, termed mollusks or molluscs, display an extreme diversity of external body forms, all based on a remarkably uniform basic plan of structure and function. Oysters, clams, chitons, mussels (Fig. 1), snails, slugs, squids, and octopuses are some of the most notable mollusks. Etymologically, the phylum name Mollusca is derived from mollis, meaning soft, referring to the soft body within a hard calcareous shell, which is usually diagnostic. Soft-bodied mollusks make extensive use of ciliary and mucous mechanisms in feeding, locomotion, and reproduction. See also: Animal; Animal kingdom; Biodiversity
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