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The Gastropods Portal

The land snail Helix pomatia
Gastropods are an exceptionally large group of extremely diverse animals which have no backbone. In most but not all cases they have a shell; they are commonly known as snails and slugs. They live in the oceans, on land and in freshwater. This taxonomic class of invertebrate animals with the scientific name Gastropoda is the largest and most successful class within the mollusks, having 60,000–75,000 named living species and being second only to the insects both in terms of diversity and in terms of the number of named species within one class of animals. Living species range in size from adult animals that are less than one millimeter (0.039 in) in length, to a few species that are almost a meter (39.4 in) in length.

Scientists who study gastropods (or other mollusks) are known as malacologists. 2,400 years ago, Aristotle, in his History of Animals, wrote about the sea snails from which the dye Tyrian purple is extracted; the genus Murex still bears the name he used. Many gastropods are important food sources, others have human relevance in other ways, ranging from their shells being used as a source of mother of pearl through to their being vectors for several diseases.

Aquamarine or sea green is used on this portal because gastropods first evolved in the oceans, colonized both land and freshwater habitats, and need the presence of water or water vapor in order to be active. The image which is currently the icon for the gastropod portal shows an individual of Helix pomatia, an air-breathing land snail which is well known to gourmets in the Western world because it is one of the European species that is eaten as escargot.

Selected article

Strombus canarium, commonly known as the dog conch, is a species of edible sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Strombidae, the true conchs. An Indo-Pacific species, S. canarium lives on mud and sandy bottoms, grazing on algae and detritus. The shell of adult individuals is colored light yellowish-brown to golden to gray. It has a characteristic inflated body whorl, a flared and thick outer lip, and a shallow stromboid notch. Although it is considered to have value as an ornament, because the shell is heavy and compact it is also often used as sinker for fishing nets.

The external anatomy of the soft parts of this species is similar to that of other strombid snails; the animal has an elongate snout, thin eyestalks with well-developed eyes and sensory tentacles, and a narrow, strong foot with a sickle-shaped operculum attached. Among the predators of this snail are carnivorous gastropods such as cone snails and volutes, as well as humans, who consume the soft parts in a wide variety of dishes.

The dog conch is an economically important species in the Indo-West Pacific, and several studies indicate that it may be currently suffering population declines due to overfishing and overexploitation. Malacologists and ecologists have recommended the reduction of the current exploitation rates; recent initiatives in Thailand are attempting to ensure the reproduction of younger individuals, as well as managing the natural populations in general. (Read more...)

Selected biography

portrait of white headed man with glasses
A. C. van Bruggen
Adolph Cornelis van Bruggen, also known as A. C. van Bruggen or Dolf van Bruggen (born 9 July 1929) is a malacologist, entomologist and botanist from the Netherlands. He has been interested in the tropics and tropical Africa has dominated his broad scientific interest for more than 50 years now.

He is especially expert in the land snail families Streptaxidae, Achatinidae and Maizaniidae, and as of 2008, had written 655 scientific publications. (Read more...)

Did you know?

  • apertural view of a brown shell
    ... that the land snails of the genus Abbottella (Abbottella calliotropis shell pictured) live on Hispaniola and on Cuba?
  • a human hand holding a big snail
    ... that the snail Tonna galea (pictured) is one of very few species of prosobranch gastropods that are luminescent?
  • apical view of a brown shell
    ... that the land snail Notodiscus hookeri (shell pictured) has unique shell structure among all gastropods?
  • a snail with a translucent shell
    ... that the microscopic cave snail Zospeum tholussum (pictured) is so slow that in a week's time it may only move a few millimeters or centimeters in circles?

  • a crawling orange land snail
    ... that the land snail Omalonyx convexus (pictured) can also be found submerged among macrophytes?
  • Pterynotus loebbeckei.jpg
    ... that the malacologist S. Peter Dance said the shell of Pterynotus loebbeckei, (pictured), was the "most exquisite natural object" he had ever seen?

  • black-brown shell
    ... that the only brackish-water pachychilid species, Faunus ater (shell pictured), has a shell that is unique among all the Cerithioidea?

  • a limper among seaweed
    ... that the owl limpet (pictured) maintains a small meadow of algal turf for its own exclusive use?

In the news






  • 16 July 2010: A new subfamily is established within the Chondrinidae.

  • A list of new Wikipedia articles about gastropods, including those that simply mention the words snail, slug, conch, etc. A bot creates this list, usually every three days.

Selected picture

Aplysia californica.jpg

The sea hare Aplysia californica releases a cloud of ink as a defensive mechanism when it is threatened. This species lives in California and the northern part of the Pacific coast of Mexico.

The California sea hare can sometimes grow to be as large as 75 cm in length, measured when actively crawling. It is a herbivore, and feeds mostly on red algae. This species has become a valuable laboratory animal for the study of neurobiology.

Lists of gastropods

Related WikiProjects

Major topics

  • Introductory articles
Gastropoda, snail, slug, land snail, freshwater snail, sea snail, sea slug
  • Anatomy of hard parts
Gastropod shell, operculum, radula, love dart, clausilium
  • Anatomy by systems
Digestive system of gastropods, respiratory system of gastropods, circulatory system of gastropods, excretory system of gastropods, sensory organs of gastropods, nervous system of gastropods, reproductive system of gastropods
  • The current taxonomy
Taxonomy of the Gastropoda (Bouchet & Rocroi, 2005), and also, changes in the taxonomy of gastropods since 2005

  • Gastropods with significant positive human impact
As food Ornaments, pearls, etc Research on nerve conduction Source of medicines For other sciences
Conch species
Abalone species
Whelk species
Common periwinkle
Escargot species
and many others
Lobatus gigas
Puka shell
Aplysia species
Conus species
Shelled taxa are valuable in archaeological and paleontological studies
  • Gastropods with significant negative human impact
Most invasive on land Most invasive in freshwater Most invasive in saltwater Vectors for diseases
Achatina fulica
Euglandina rosea
Arion vulgaris
Pomacea canaliculata
Potamopyrgus antipodarum
Batillaria attramentaria
Boonea bisuturalis
Ceratostoma inornatum
Crepidula fornicata
Ilyanassa obsoleta
Littorina littorea
Rapana venosa
Urosalpinx cinerea
Biomphalaria glabrata
Oncomelania hupensis
Bulinus truncatus

Related portals


Categories about gastropods:

Request to editors: please do not create any more categories of gastropods by country. Instead create list articles, article with a list of the marine or non-marine gastropods of whichever country or area you are interested in. We would also like to empty and delete the two remaining country categories we have, adding that information to list articles instead. Thank you.


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