Gilled Aquatic Snails (Prosobranchs)
Most people know a snail when they see one, but it is less common to be able to tell the difference between the two main types of aquatic snails. Prosobranch snails have a long incurrent siphon (tube) that draws water into the mantle (the tissue connecting the body to the shell), where gills extract oxygen. Thus they are able to “breathe” underwater much like a clam. Another key characteristic of prosobranch snails is the operculum, a hard, horny, rounded “trapdoor” attached to the foot that seals the opening when the animal retracts into the shell. It functions to protect the snail from predators as well as to keep it from drying out if it should be stranded out of water for a time.