cool looking shell - Printable Version

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cool looking shell - sjsuperman - 06-17-2009

My girlfriend showed me a small shell that her great-grandmother brought over from Sicily over 100 yrs ago. I dont have a pic but i'll do my best to describe it. It's just around the size of a nickel. One side is flat and the other is rounded. What makes this shell show neat-looking is that the rounded side looks exactly like an animals eye; say that of a calf. White with a black pupil. The flat side is brown and white and has a snail-like pattern; the swirl is what I mean. Now she was told by her mom that this was a seashell and I would like to find out for her what it was. Does anyone know of a shell like this?I'll see about getting some pics on here. I appreciate your help. Thx.

cool looking shell - paul monfils - 06-17-2009

This is not exactly a shell, but it is shell related. Some snails have a sort of "door" that they can use to block the entrance to their shell when they pull inside for protection.  It's called an operculum.  In most snails the operculum is made of a stiff brown material that looks kind of like wood.  But in a couple of snail families the operculum is made of the same material as the shell itself, and is often brightly colored.  What you are describing is an operculum from a turban shell.  Different species of turban shells have opercula (plural) of various colors, sometimes with fancy ridges or pebbling or other sculpture.  Here's a neat website all about opercula.  If you click on an operculum you can see an enlarged view, and then if you place your cursor over the picture, you can see the shell it came from. There about a dozen different turban shell (Turbo) opercula shown.  Maybe you can find yours.

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In the shellcraft industry, these are known as "cat eyes":

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.  <span class="petit">--Last edited by Paul Monfils on 2009-06-17 05:58:36 --</span>