The University of Edinburgh's Home Page
Sculptures by Phyllis Bone


The 350 species of scaphopods are all marine animals. Tusk or tooth shells are fairly active animals, ploughing through the mud and sand of the seabed with their cone-shaped foot and with the end of the shell protruding from the substrate. The tube-shaped shell, which gives scaphopods their popular name, is open at both ends so that water can circulate around the body. Adapted for a burrowing habit, the head is reduced to a short conical projection bearing the mouth. A tuft of long filaments serves as tactile organs and to capture food, such as small molluscs, crustaceans and foraminiferans, which are crushed by the radula prior to digestion. Scaphopods have many features in common with bivalves and appear to be an offshoot from the ancestral bivalve stock.