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  • What you're looking at is a clam's foot.

  • That's right, clams have a foot.

  • And some species can extend it several inches.

  • But, as it turns out, a foot is just one of the many bizarre features you'll find inside a clam.

  • Like oysters and mussels, clams are bivalves, a kind of mollusk that's encased in a shell made of 2 valves, or hinging parts.

  • And that shell comes in all different sizes.

  • There are small clams, like these, which are often used for cooking.

  • And then there are giant clams, which can grow more than a meter long and weigh as much as 250 kilograms.

  • But no matter their size, clams have some truly bizarre stuff going on inside.

  • And to get a closer look, we went clamming.

  • Oh, God.

  • That's marine biologist Soren Dahl, who took us clamming on Long Island.

  • At first, we didn't have much luck.

  • I got one, but it looks like it's dead.

  • "Old shell".

  • Oh, I got a crab.

  • Then we stumbled upon what's known as a honey hole.

  • It's basically a clammer's code word for jackpot.

  • Hey! I got 2!

  • All right!

  • And in the end, we found about a dozen hard clams.

  • This right here is my recently collected, my recently collected clams, and I have a lot of them.

  • Now, to see what's inside, you can't exactly pry one open with your bare hands.

  • And that's thanks to these 2 muscles.

  • They run from the inside of one shell to the other.

  • And when clams sense a threat or find themselves out of water, they contract, causing the clam to, you know, clam up.

  • So, to get one open, you need to cut through those muscles.

  • Now, you have your, this is your hard-shell clam.

  • Both of, so that...those two muscles together create a muscle that goes from here to here?

  • Yep, this...this goes from this side to that side.

  • And what about that strange foot?

  • This is the foot, right here.

  • So, it might not be as impressive as this, but that's just because here the foot is retracted.

  • And they'll extend this out of the clam, and they can push themselves along the bottom and use it to dig a hole to help bring themselves into, like, a burrow.

  • And some clams are particularly dexterous with their foot.

  • The razor clam, for example, can bury itself 70 cm underground.

  • It uses rapid movements of its foot to fluidize the ground around it, essentially turning it into quicksand.

  • But if you think clam feet are bizarre, check out this thing: the siphon.

  • Siphons are essentially 2 connected straws that clams stick out of their shells.

  • One pulls in water, which contains food particles and oxygen, and the other expels waste.

  • And none is more impressive than the one belonging to the geoduck clam.

  • It's so big the clam can't even close its shell.

  • While siphons allow clams to eat and breathe, some clams have another, more advanced tactic for getting nutrients.

  • Instead of just sucking food out of the water, giant clams farm it themselves.

  • Like coral, they have a symbiotic relationship with microalgae.

  • The clams provide algae with a place to live and photosynthesize.

  • And in exchange, algae gives the clam byproducts of photosynthesis, such as sugars, which enables the giant clams to grow, you know, giant.

  • Now, on rare occasions, there's something else you might find inside a clam: a pearl.

  • That's right, oysters aren't the only pearl producers out there.

  • Clams, too, will form these shimmering clumps to trap irritants that enter their shells.

  • In fact, a fisherman once found a 34-kilogram pearl inside a giant clam.

  • So, yeah, clams aren't just fascinating; they might also be precious.

  • Plus, they actually play an important role in their environment.

  • By sucking up particles to eat, they function like natural water filters, making marshes, lakes, and other habitats more livable.

  • And, on top of that, they're delicious to eat.

  • Not to mention, really fun to collect.

What you're looking at is a clam's foot.

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C1 US clam foot shell giant pearl bizarre

What's Inside A Clam?

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    Mackenzie posted on 2020/01/11
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