Gastropod Facts

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

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.

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Gastropods Are Mollusks

View Of Barnacle And Mussel On Rock Formation By Sea
Lots of blue mussels growing on a rock. Carol Visser / EyeEm / Getty Images

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. 

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Class Gastropoda Profile

Orange Sea Slug
An orange sea slug. Borut Furlan / Getty Images

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 an 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.

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Conchs

Closeup of the queen conch (Strombus gigas)
Elizabeth Fernandez / Getty Images

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.

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Whelks

Whelk Phos textum on sand - New Caledonia,
David Massemin / Getty Images

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.