A seashell is the exoskeleton, or hard outer covering, of a marine animal, typically a mollusk such as a snail, clam, or oyster. Seashells are often found along the shoreline of the ocean and are collected by beachcombers and used for decorative purposes. Seashells come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and can be found in a range of colors and patterns. The appearance of a seashell is often determined by the species of mollusk that produced it, as well as by environmental factors such as the type of substrate the mollusk lived on and the availability of food. Seashells are made of a hard, calcium-based substance called "conchiolin," which is secreted by the mollusk as it grows. As the mollusk grows, it continually adds new layers of conchiolin to the outer edge of its shell, creating a spiral pattern. Seashells are an important part of marine ecosystems, serving as a home and protective covering for a wide variety of marine animals. They are also an important source of food for many species of birds and other animals, and are an important component of the marine food web.
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