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A handful of mollusks go by the name slipper shells. More specifically the term refers to two genera of sea snails, (Crepidula and Crepipatella) in the family Crepidulidae, which is more commonly called the cup and saucers and slipper shells.
Crepidula species can be found on both coasts, while Crepipatella are West Coast species.
The top picture, an Atlantic Slipper Shell, explains the name slipper shell. Unlike bivalves, slipper shells are medium sized, one shelled, snails. Rather than having the circular, tightly coiled shell home, they have a more open shell with a ledge built into the bottom to hold the snail.
They tend to behave more like barnacles than snails. As larvae, they attach themselves to an object, including the shells of other nearby animals and other slipper shells, and they spend their lives filter feeding from that spot.
Their gender changes over time, with young slipper shells being male and transforming into females as they age.
© 2009 Patricia A. Michaels