Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Nacre is secreted by the ectodermic cells of the mantle tissue of most mollusks. Mollusk blood is rich in a liquid form of calcium. In these mollusks the calcium is concentrated out from the blood where it can crystallize as calcium carbonate (CaCO3). The individual crystals of each layer differ in shape and orientation. Nacre is continually deposited onto the inner surface of the animal's shell (the iridescent nacreous layer, also known as mother of pearl), both as a means to smoothen the shell itself and as a defense against parasitic organisms and damaging detritus.
The calcium carbonate layers are generally of two types: an outer, chalk-like prismatic layer and an inner pearly, lamellar or nacreous layer. The layers may incorporate a substance called conchiolin, often in order to help bind the calcium carbonate crystals together. Conchiolin is composed largely of quinone-tanned proteins.
The mantle cavity
A mantle skirt is a double fold of mantle that encloses a water space. This space is called the mantle cavity, and it is a central feature of mollusk biology, containing the mollusk's gills, anus, osphradium, nephridiopores, and gonopores. The mantle cavity may function as a respiratory chamber (all mollusks), feeding structure (bivalves), brood chamber (several forms), or locomotory organ (cephalopods and some bivalves).
The mantle is highly muscular. In cephalopods it is used to force water through a tubular siphon, the hyponome, to propel the animal quickly through the water. In other mollusks, it is used as a kind of "foot" for locomotion.
The nervous system of cephalopods is the most complex of the invertebrates. The giant nerve fibers of the cephalopod mantle have been a favorite experimental material of neurophysiologists for many years.
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