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Shell X-Rays

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The shell collector Xenophora pallidula.Marine snails of the genus Xenophora picks up other shells, rocks, and other debris from their environment at intervals as it grows and each snail creates its own unique shell covering. The selected piece is attached or cemented with secretions from the animal. Once an object is selected, it is cleaned (as is the site of intended attachment), and then the object is rotated and fitted to the attachment site. This may take up to 1 1/2 hours. The piece is then held in place with the animal's foot, snout, and tentacle bases and glued into place. The Xenophora may then lay motionless for up to 10 hours, only rocking in place now and then to check the strength of its new attachment. These added extensions spread out the shell's surface area and helps prevent the animal from sinking. It also increases the strength and rigidity to its relatively fragile shell.