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Clams are found in temperate oceans throughout the world.


They are found in both salt (marine) and freshwater habitats.

Body Traits

They have two shells connected by a hinge – called the ligament and kept closed by powerful  muscles. The shells can open and close when needed, but are usually held closed by powerful muscles to protect them from predators.  All use their muscular foot to meet their different lifestyle needs. They have no head, but a diffuse nerve network made up of three nerve centers (or ganglia) distributed around their visceral mass.


Clams burrow into the sandy bottom. Scallops burrow or swim freely, using their shell to “clap” water propelling them as needed. Mussels use their foot to anchor to rocks and other objects. They have gills that are bathed with fresh water (and oxygen) through posterior siphons.


Unlike many mollusks that feed using a rasping tongue, called a radula, bivalves feed by filtering food particles from the water. They do this by siphoning water over the gills which traps it and propels it toward the mouth.

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Bivalvia
Order: Veneroida
Family: Veneridae
Genus: Mercenaria
Species: M. mercenaria

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