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Dentaliidae Family

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Dentaliidae Family
  Dentaliidae Family
Tooth or Tusk Shell

The Dentaliidae Family of shells has over 300 different species found world wide. At one time this family of shells was held in high regard by the Native Americans and aboriginal people throughout the world. Various species of the shell were considered to have monetary value and were used as trade throughout the 19th century. When you look at the shell it is easy to see how it caused creative people to see many ways they could incorporated it into an art form. The shell, being tubular and open at both ends, made it easily used to produce necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and adornment for clothing. It was a simple matter for a seamstress to run threads through the shells and attach them to articles of clothing. Many ancient cultures used specific species of the shell that were more costly to obtain to show rank and position of the bearer. The shell was often used for ceremonial purposes.

Even though the shell housed a small animal it was considered a food source. People living by the ocean often ate whatever was available fresh from the sea. This little creature was easily accessible so they would pick up the shell and suck the food from it. To us today it doesn’t sound appetizing but we eat raw oysters and sushi which are not much different.

Times have not changed much when it comes to the usage of the Dentaliidae Family of shells. Even today this little shell is used to create jewelry and many different types of crafts. One of the craft forms we are familiar with at the Old Gray House is to use dentalium to surround picture frames or mirrors.

Dentaliidae Family

White Tusk Shells
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White Tusk Shells
Dentalium eboreum, (Conrad , 1846)

Green Tusk
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Green Tusk
Dentallium aprinum, (Linne 1776)

Ribbed Tusk
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Ribbed Tusk
Dentalium elephantium, (Linne 1776)


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