Friday, 20 August 2021

Drill a hole before you can eat

The whelk or Buccinum undatum (Linnaeus, 1758) belongs to the snails (Gastropoda).

The whelk is a large, thick predatory snail with 7 or 8 turns. A deep seam runs between the turns. The mouth opening takes up almost half of the shell and ends in a sipho. On the surface there are horizontal ribs and clear vertical growth lines. Often there are also vertical ribs at the top of the shell. It grows up to 11 cm high and 7 cm wide. The whelk has yellowish-white with dark spots. Whelks washed ashore are often dark blue, because they have been lying on the bottom of the sea for a long time.

Whelks live on soft soils such as mud and sand, to a depth of several hundred meters. A small trunk protrudes from the underside of a live animal, the so-called sipho. Empty whelk houses are often inhabited by hermit crabs. Whelk's egg capsules can often be found on the beach, in a sponge-like tangle of yellow, plastic-like balls.

In the photos we see part of the animal's radula, with which it drills a hole in the shell of its prey, then kills it with poison and then eats it. A radula consists largely of chitin. This is a polysaccharide. The radula is part of the so-called odonthophore, which can be brought out by the animal. It is covered with small teeth that are usually arranged in several rows. The teeth are continuously added to replace the worn parts on the front. The numbers, shape and arrangement of the teeth is different for each species and that is why they are often used by scientists as a determination feature.

The whelk is a popular animal for consumption.

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