Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dead snail shells: Violent deaths!

Violent NAKED facts about dead shells

Stuck in a shelter waiting for the rain to stop? Came too early and the tide is still too high to go out to the flats? Here's some stories of death and violence to entertain your restless visitors with.

First go out and quickly gather some of these shells that tell the story.

(The striped stick at the top left corner is a spine of a sea urchin. Living sea urchins are covered with a skin. When they die, the skin rots and their spines fall off)

Snail shells are generally coiled. (Show some other broken shells of typical snails with their coils exposed).

The cowrie doesn't look like it has a coiled shell from the outside. But inside, it is coiled!

Thoughtful question: Why do you think the top of this cowrie shell is broken?

It was probably crunched off by a hungry crab!

All these shells have similar breaks at the top.

Thoughtful question: What do you think happened to them?

You're right! A crab probably crunched them too!

Many snail-eating crabs have two different kinds of claws. One large crunching claw, and another claw with thin pincers that act like chopsticks to pick out the snail snack.

See the hole in this clam shell? And the break in the other?

Thoughtful question: Oh dear! What happened to these clams?

The hole was probably drilled by a clam-eating snail, like a moon snail. The moon snail produces an acid that softens the shell. It then uses its rough file-like tongue to slowly drill a hole. The clam is then pumped with digestive juices and is sucked up like soup. Yummy!

The big broken clam was probably crunched by a crab.

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