|Shell of the Queen Conch - a gastropod.|
Conchology (pronounced “konk-ology”) is the study of the shell of molluscs. This is not to be confused with malacology - the study of mollusk organisms. Conchology is confined to the study of their shells.
There are those who view conchologists as just glorified shell collectors. While conchologists can and usually are shell collectors they are not necessarily so. By the same token shell collectors can run the gamut of the occasional beach comber picking up shells on the sea shore to serious collectors who delve into serious study of sea shells. For myself I would consider myself to be an amateur conchologist. I love sea shells, the collecting of them, studying their variations, and learning their scientific classifications, geographic distribution and the minutiae of related information pertaining to sea shells.
Seashells are divided into four molluscan orders: the gastropods (snails such as conchs), bivalves (such as clams), polyplacophora (chitons) and scaphopoda (tusk shells). In addition conchologists also study a subclass of Cephalopods called Nautiloidea (the most familiar of which is the Nautilus).
|Examples of (clockwise from left) bivalves (Angel Wing Clam), |
polyplacophora (chiton), cephalopod (Chambered Nautilus,
live scaphopoda (tusk shells)
There truly is no place on earth where shells cannot be found, be it inland or the sea. From waterways, streams, and lakes, even fossilized shells found in arid deserts or on mountains to the beaches and depths of the seas.