Most molluscs undergo spiral cleavage. Development can be direct (proceed right to settling into a juvenile form) or indirect, going through the swimming trochophore larval stage. The trochophore is very similar to the annelid trochophore. Before settling, many groups then go onto a second larval stage which is unique to molluscs: the feeding (usually) and swimming veliger larvae. Molluscs go through the uniquely molluscan process of torsion, usually during the veliger stage of development. Torsion involves counterclockwise rotation of the visceral mass up to 180 degrees with respect to the head and foot, to profoundly change the relative location of the body regions. Many groups then “detort” to some degree later in development or adulthood. Theories as to the evolutionary significance of torsion abound but this phenomenon is not well understood (Brusca and Brusca 2003). In the long run, torsion has allowed for much morphological diversification over the course of evolution.
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