An exoskeleton (From Greek ἔξω, éxō = "outer" + σκελετός, skeletos = "skeleton") is the external skeleton that supports and protects an animal's body, in contrast to the internal skeleton (endoskeleton) of, for example, a human. In popular usage, some of the larger kinds of exoskeletons are known as "shells". Examples of exoskeleton animals include insects such as grasshoppers and cockroaches, and crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters. The shells of the various groups of shelled mollusks, including those of snails, clams, tusk shells, chitons and nautilus, are also exoskeletons.
Mineralized exoskeletons first appeared in the fossil record about 550million years ago, and their evolution is considered by some to have played a role in the subsequent Cambrian explosion of animals.
Some animals, such as the tortoise, have both an endoskeleton and an exoskeleton.