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Abalone is a species of shellfish (mollusks) from the Haliotidae family (genus Haliotis).

The abalones belong to the large class of gastropods (Gastropoda).

The family has unmistakable characteristics: the shell is rounded to oval, with two to three whorls, and the last one auriform, grown into a large "ear", giving rise to the common name ‘ear-shell’.

The body whorl has a series of holes - four to ten depending on the species, near the anterior margin.

The shell of the abalone is known for being exceptionally strong.

It is made of microscopic calcium carbonate tiles stacked like bricks.

Between the layers of tiles is a sticky protein substance.

When the abalone shell is struck, the tiles slide instead of shattering and the protein stretches to absorb the energy of the blow.

Material scientists at the University of California, San Diego are studying the tiled structure for insight into stronger ceramic products such as body armor.

Note:   The above text is excerpted from the Wikipedia article "Abalone", which has been released under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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