Give a Moon Snail a Clam

Lewis' Moon snail.  Photo courtesy of NOAA
This is a funny looking sea snail.  It is a Lewis' Moon snail. It slips along the sandy ocean bottom from Vancouver Island to Baja, California (on the Pacific West Coast) and is a dangerous predator.   Well, it is dangerous if you are an oyster, clam, scallop, or cockle.

How does a snail eat a hard-shelled oyster, clam or cockle?  

Two ways.  Usually it drills a perfectly round hole into the shell to draw out the food, or it will also take its large "foot" and suffocate the shellfish.

How does a  moon snail drill a hole in a hard shell?

A clam that fed a Lewis' Moon snail
When you find a shell with an exact round hole in it, a moon snail probably made a meal of that shellfish. A moon snail's tongue has rows of sharp, razor-like teeth that it uses to drill a hole into a shell.  While drilling, the snail also releases a liquid that softens the shell.

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