Mollusks are soft-bodied invertabrates that often inhabit shells. Octopuses, squid, and slugs are examples of mollusks without shells. Snails, clams, mussels, oysters, and whelks are examples of shelled mollusks. A conchologist is an individual who studies and, perhaps, collects the shells of mollusks. In 1989, the Oregon Society of Conchologists had been around for almost 25 years when they came up with an idea to promote their endeavors by drawing attention to one of the more well-known mollusks in Oregon, the Oregon triton Fusitriton oregonensis (Redfield, 1848).
The Oregon triton is a large sea snail. This sea snail can grow to a length of five inches.
Perhaps we're being too picky, but we think this designation is flawed. Here's why.
As noted, Fusitriton oregonensis is a large sea snail that lives off the north western coast of the United States. This sea snail carries with it a shell.
We know that the various species of sea snails can be differentiated by the shapes of their shells.
Oregon has designated the Oregon triton their official state shell, but shouldn't they have more precisely designated the shell of the Oregon triton their official state shell?
Most of the states that have designated official shells, like Oregon, have not made the distinction but the most recent members of the official state shell club, New Jersey and Delaware, have passed legislation that carefully stipulates that it is the "shell of..." that they are recognizing, not the animal itself.
SIXTY-FIFTH LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
House Concurrent Resolution No. 9
Sponsored by Representatives FORD, AGRONS, HANLON, Senator PHILLIPS (at the request of Margaret Teskey, Librarian, Oregon Society of Conchologists)
Whereas triton shells were named after the sea demigod Triton, official trumpeter of Neptune, god of the sea, and Triton's name became attached to the shell he blew as his trumpet and spread to become the name of a whole genus; and
Whereas the tritons are a stately family of snails whose shells have attracted the attention of humankind for many centuries; and
Whereas the Oregon Triton (Fusitriton oregonensis) is sometimes over five inches long with rounded whorls of white shell covered, when living, with a brown, hairy layer called periostracum; and
Whereas the Oregon Triton, though it ranges in habitat from the Bering Sea to the Mexican border and northern Japan, is one of the larger snails of the Pacific Northwest and the Pacific Northwest's representative of the triton family; now, therefore,
Be It Resolved by the Legislative Assembly of the State of Oregon:
That we, the members of the Sixty-fifth Legislative Assembly, recognize and proclaim the Oregon Triton (Fusitrition oregonensis) as the official Oregon shell.
Filed in the Office of Secretary of State Month 99, 9999.
The following information was excerpted from the Oregon Revised Statutes - 2009 Edition, Title 19, Chapter 186.
TITLE 19 MISCELLANEOUS MATTERS RELATED TO GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS
186. State Emblems; State Boundary
Oregon Triton declared to be official shell, HCR 9 (1989)
State of Oregon. Oregon Revised Statutes - 2009 Edition. Salem: State of Oregon, 2011. Web. 8 Apr 2011. <http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/home.htm>
Shearer, Benjamin F. and Barbara S. State Names, Seals, Flags and Symbols: A Historical Guide Third Edition, Revised and Expanded. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 3 Sub edition, 2001.
Fusitriton oregonensis (Redfield, 1848): ITIS, the Integrated Taxonomic Information System - Here you will find authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.
Oregon Society of Conchologists: Official website of the Oregon Society of Conchologists.
State shells: Complete list of official state shells from NETSTATE.COM.
More symbols & emblems: Complete list of official Oregon state symbols from NETSTATE.COM.