DEC 22, 2019 7:48 AM PST

Ever Wonder What Happens Inside a Clam's Shell?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Most people think of clams as a gooey blob inside of a two-piece shell, but there’s actually a lot more going on inside that shell that you might come to expect.

While it’s true that a clam is rather gooey and that it resides in a two-piece shell, that little blob is actually chock-full of surprises. One of the first things you may not know is that clams have a physical foot that they can extend out their shell to ‘push’ themselves along the seafloor and burrow more than two feet underground. No, it doesn’t look anything like your foot or mine… but it serves practically the same purpose for the clam: transportation.

Another interesting thing inside the clam’s shell is a pair of muscles that clamp the shell shut. These muscles relax or contract, depending on whether the clam wants the shell open or closed. It may open its shell to ‘walk’ along the seafloor, but if it feels threatened, it can contract those muscles so tensely that you won’t even be able to open a clam shell with your two bare hands. Instead, opening a clam shell requires physically cutting into the crack and slicing those muscles.

Clams also exhibit a feature known as the siphon, which looks and behaves a lot like two straws wrapped together. One pulls in water and nutrients from the clam’s surroundings, while the other expels waste produced by the intake. Some clams have very small siphons, and others are so large they don’t even fit inside of the shell. Supermassive clams may also have siphons, or they’ll just open their shells to eat what’s around them.

Related: What's inside a pufferfish may surprise you

Intriguingly, some clams may also produce pearls – just like oysters. These pearls are used to trap contaminants that enter the clam’s shell, and they’re just as collectible as their oysters’ counterparts.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
AUG 13, 2020
Plants & Animals
Study Confirms Nutrient Transport in Pregnant Male Seahorses
AUG 13, 2020
Study Confirms Nutrient Transport in Pregnant Male Seahorses
Seahorses are some of the most extraordinary fish in the ocean, and one of their most noteworthy features is male pregna ...
AUG 14, 2020
Plants & Animals
Tracking the Iconic American Bison
AUG 14, 2020
Tracking the Iconic American Bison
The Great Plains of Montana are home to one of the United States' largest land restoration projects, known as the Am ...
AUG 27, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Pheromone Molecule at the Center of Global Locusts Crisis
AUG 27, 2020
Pheromone Molecule at the Center of Global Locusts Crisis
Since earlier this year, agriculture and food production in the developing world have been taking heavy damages from an ...
AUG 27, 2020
Plants & Animals
Polar Bear Populations Could Collapse by 2100
AUG 27, 2020
Polar Bear Populations Could Collapse by 2100
A new study reports that polar bear populations could collapse in the next 80 years if greenhouse gas emissions remain a ...
SEP 21, 2020
Plants & Animals
Female Whale Sharks Crowned Ocean's Largest Fish
SEP 21, 2020
Female Whale Sharks Crowned Ocean's Largest Fish
After a decade of study, scientists have reached the conclusion that female whale sharks are the largest fish in the oce ...
OCT 26, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
When Exposed to Estrogen, Fish Generate Fewer Males
OCT 26, 2020
When Exposed to Estrogen, Fish Generate Fewer Males
Life on earth relies on clean water, something that is becoming more scarce. Researchers have found that if water is con ...
Loading Comments...