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Abalone

Updated on April 7, 2011

Abalone is a a group of soft-bodied, one-shelled invertebrates found in warm seas throughout the world. The upper part of the abalone shell is broadly flattened and often ear-shaped in outline. A curving row of holes pierces the left side of the shell, and gill filaments extend through the holes, which also serve for the discharge of waste respiratory water and of the sexual products.

The older holes become closed with a chalky deposit and new holes are formed as the shell grows, but the number of holes is not constant, and it does not indicate the age of the animal. The outer surface of the shell is rough and dull, but the main substance and inner surface of the shell are a brilliant mother-of-pearl used in the jewelry and novelty trades. The fleshy foot, or "body," of the abalone has two feelers, two stalked eyes, and a central snout. It may be prepared as food and is highly regarded in California and the Orient.

The abalone is a gastropod mollusk in the family Haliotidae. The name "abalone" formerly was restricted to members of the genus Haliotis from California but is now more widely applied.

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