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Invertebrate Characteristics

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Are Clams Rude?
Teacher Contributed

That's not a tongue! That's a foot!

A Giant Clam (Tridahna gigas)

Why It Matters

Runaway Clam?

This video made a sensation on the internet

But what's really going on here? Well, this is not a happy clam! The "tongue" you see in the video is actually the clams "foot". This is the same body part Gastropods (another class of Mollusk) use to crawl and the part that people eat when the eat clams. It just looks like a tongue. Clams use their foot to dig into sediments and bury themselves. They can also use their foot to move horizontally through the sediments to avoid predators....these are some strong feet! So what is this clam doing? It's trying to get away, it's been left on the counter long enough it is under stress and attempting to use its foot to find some water and sediments to save itself.

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If you need help scratching a mental itch, use the resources below:

  1. Unlike some bivalves (e.g. oysters, scallops, mussels), most clams bury themselves in sediments. How may this lifestyle affect their response to decreasing pH in the worlds oceans?
  2. How do Giant Clams (Tridacna gigas) benefit from having symbiotic algae in their tissues?
  3. Not all clams have symbiotic algae, why would symbiotic algae be less useful to clams that bury themselves?
  4. What other type of microorganism could help buried clams achieve their energy requirements?

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