- Marine molluscs with a tapering, tubular, slightly curved tusk-like shell, that is open
at both ends. The large end remains anchored in the sand by a cone shaped foot. Influent and outfluent streams take place at the narrow end. At the wider front end, a burrowing foot is generally extended.
- The drawing of this thin shell, near bottom of page, shows its highly retractile, slender
captacula. Like sticky fingers, secretions on the tips of the captacula pick up food
particles for transfer to the mouth, which is deep inside the burrowing foot, at its anterior end (See Anatomy & Function).
About 350 species are known, most found in 6 meters or more of water, with a few species, only, found on shore. Cadula shells are typically 4 mm in length, whereas Dentalium shells up to 150 mm have been found off shore of Japan. Fossil species of Dentalium up to 300 mm, with a 30 mm diameter, are known. The shells are widely used for jewelry and are often massed in the beaded portions of American Indian clothing decorations.
- Class: Scaphopoda
- Family: Dentaliidae
- Genus: Antalis
- Genus: Dentalium
- Genus: Siphonodentalium
- Genus: Cadulus
- Genus: Entalina
Dentalium elephantinum (Linnaeus, 1758)
Drawing of the common tusk shell,
Dentalium vulgare (da Costa, 1778)
SEE LIVING TUSK SHELLS
"The Living World of Molluscs"
by Robert Nordsleck
(navigate, on right, from Home Page to Tusk Shells)