Where do seashells come from?

Every individual who has been to any beach or seashore must have come across little shells. Most of the time, we can find them lying around on the sand. Other times, they can be felt with the waves of the ocean. We can also appreciate these beautiful pieces of nature on decorations and jewelry that is crafted using them. 

Many people like to collect seashells, while others consider it to be a source of luck and wealth. But most people do not realize the function they provide. How are the shells made, and what function do they perform? Let’s unfold this mystery.

The sea is crammed with life from the surface to the bottom, and from its edge on the shore to its center. A huge number of living creatures in the sea make a shell for themselves, partly to protect them from the fishes that would like to eat them and partly as a protection from the force of the water. The shells become the little houses that sea creatures make for themselves from their body material.

We call this creature a “shell-fish,” but the name is terrible. No fish makes a shell, and these creatures are not fish at all, but far lower in the scale of life. There is no comparison between their body structures. 

A fish is an animal that has a backbone and a skeleton that lies inside its body. Meanwhile, the bodies of these shell-producing creatures are soft and weak. They neither have a backbone nor any other bones. The only reason why they need shells is that they cannot survive as freely as a fish.

An example of such animals is clams. They have tiny bodies with no internal skeleton to support them. Thus, they produce an external skeletal system made up of calcium carbonate. They secrete this compound over and over, producing a firm boundary that no other fish can cross. This is how shells are made in the first place.

These sea creatures are not like common animals. As we all know, living things are constantly evolving. And even when there was no sign of fishes in the sea, these kinds of creatures existed. And since they could not keep up with the harsh environment of the sea, they produced the shell to find sustainability. 

Whenever the structure of their home gets any scratch, they repair it instantly. But when they die, their bodies gradually dissolve away, leaving behind the empty shell that they created. With time, the shell gets much lighter in weight, for its inhabitant is not there to fix it to a rock or seaweed, and so it is cast up by the waves on the shore where we find it. This is why the shells we pick never show any sign of life. 

There is heavy evidence that these primitive creatures have been around since the beginning. Sometimes, when we dig far inland, we come across many little seashells deep down in the Earth. You can say these shells prove that at one time, long, long ago, the sea used to cover that place. And, after the death of little creatures, their shells dropped to the bed of the sea and were gradually covered by layer upon layer of mud, until the land which was previously the sea-bed became dry.

The more we observe, the more we realize that nature is very deep. Who would’ve thought that a small piece of a shell can hold up such great function? Let’s just take a moment and appreciate the small pieces of nature around us.

You might also like: