If you haven’t seen “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On,” do yourself a favor and watch the short film above (click here  for Part II). The protagonist is a tiny talking monocular mollusk sporting hot pink sneakers—a rare breed indeed. Yet, Marcel’s essence—his spiraling body—seems like something found in nature, doesn't it? I started wondering: What kind of shell is Marcel?
My experience with mollusks stops at beachcombing, so I consulted Dr. M. G. Harasewych, curator of marine mollusca at the Smithsonian Institution (and an editor of The Book on Shells: A Life-size Guide to Identifying and Classifying Six Hundred Seashells ) to weigh in. “Marcel appears to be about an inch long, perhaps a bit larger,” he wrote me in an email, and “It seems possible that [he] might have had his surface painted, either physically or digitally.” Then he took a shot at identification: “My guess is that Marcel is not a seashell, but likely came from a freshwater aquarium or a stream. Probably a member of the family Viviparidae, most likely the genus Cipangopaludina . I wonder how Marcel feels living like a fish out of water.