One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A marine mollusc with a shell that forms loose irregular coils, giving it the appearance of a worm.
Family Vermetidae, class Gastropoda: Vermetus and other genera, including the European giant worm shell (V. gigas)
- ‘Next, I added a row of cowrie shells around the base of the birdhouse (figure B) and then topped it off with a spiral worm shell like a little birdie weathervane on the top (figure C).’
- ‘The bottom is covered with worm shells.’
- ‘The vermetid worm shells have irregularly coiled or contorted shells which are attached to hard surfaces by their early whorls.’
- ‘The bench consists of calcareous algae and worm shells which cover the limestone and make it resistant to the wave action.’
- ‘It is a bar of worm shells at the mouth of the Mee Klong River.’
2The twisted calcareous tube of a sedentary marine bristle worm, typically attached to a stone or mollusc shell.
The worms belong to Serpula and other genera, class Polychaeta
- ‘The spiral worm shell is also considered to be a horn shell.’
- ‘Most of them were covered with these tube worm shells.’
- ‘As they grow, the shells may coil or meander over the substrate producing a tube that looks quite similar to a serpulid tube worm shell.’
- ‘Moreover, any of the worm shells can be superficially mistaken for similar shells formed by certain annelid worms - a wholly unrelated phylum.’
- ‘However, almost any sort of hollow object can make a home for a hermit crab; some of them will move into straight worm shells.’
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