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MEET THE MOLLUSKS

Mollusks are soft-bodied animals that have no skeletons. Many mollusks, such as snails and clams, form shells that protect them. But some mollusks have no shells around their bodies. They have other ways of protecting themselves.

The octopus has many ways of avoiding danger. Because its body is soft, it sometimes escapes by squeezing into a small opening in the ocean floor. As the octopus crawls or swims, its body color changes to match the rocks or shells below it. If attacked, the octopus squirts an inky fluid into the sea. The fluid may confuse the attacker while the octopus swims away. The octopus swims fast by shooting water from its body.

The octopus is a mollusk called a cephalopod. Cephalopod comes from two Creek words. It means "head-foot", and describes the main body parts of a cephalopod. Another group of mollusks is called gastropods. Gastropod means "belly-foot", the main body parts of gastropod. Snails and slugs are gastropods.

A gastropod has a broad band of flesh called a foot. The animal uses its foot to push itself along the bottom.

Many gastropods live in a single shell. Others, have little or no shell. For protection, some of these gastropods squirt dye. Others have an unpleasant taste. Predators learn to avoid them.