The group may be defined as follows: Sessile solitary Coelomata with bivalved shells usually of unequal size and arranged dorso-ventrally.
Of these latter, two grades were further distinguished by Lankester - those which remain possessed of a single archenteric cavity and of two primary cell-layers (the Coelentera or Diploblastica), and those which by nipping off the archenteron give rise to two cavities, the coelom or body-cavity and the metenteron or gut (Coelomata or Triploblastica).
The structural features which the Mollusca do possess in common with other animals belonging to other great phyla of the animal kingdom are those characteristic of the Coelomata, one of the two great grades (the other and lower being that of the Coelentera) into which the higher animals; or Metazoa as distinguished from the Protozoa, are divided.
In the Coelomata, on the other hand, there is another cavity, dividing the body-wall into two layers: an internal layer surrounding the gut, and an external layer.
In common with all other Coelomata, the Mollusca are at one period of life possessed of a prostomium or region in front of the mouth, which is the essential portion of the " head," and is connected with the property of forward locomotion in a definite direction and the steady carriage of the body (as opposed to rotation of the body on its long axis).