Evolution Intelligent Design

Talk about adaptability: A clam that “eats” rocks

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A clam whose shells have been re-engineered as drill heads also has dozens of mini-teeth that scrape rocks for food, ingesting and breaking them down. Most shipworms, as they are called, eat wood:

Like other shipworms, the rock-eating shipworm still ingests what it scrapes away to make its protective burrow, but it lacks both the sack and its bacteria and likely doesn’t get much sustenance from the rock bits. Their ingestion may be a holdover from wood-eating ancestors. Instead, it seems to rely on other bacteria residing in its gills to produce nutrients or food sucked in by a siphon at the clam’s back end for nourishment.

Elizabeth Pennisi, “This rock-eating ‘worm’ could change the course of rivers” at Science (June 18, 2019)

Hmm. Another way of looking at this: It probably picks up a lot of bacteria while busting up the rocks. And it puts them to work. Mergers and acquisitions, as they say in business.

Paper. (open access)

2 Replies to “Talk about adaptability: A clam that “eats” rocks

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Limestone is obviously a good source of calcium and carbon and oxygen, basic building blocks of life. It’s not hard to break it down; most simple acids will do the job. No need for special bacteria.

    And the fossils in limestone might include leftovers of previous bivalves, including more complex organic molecules. Seems like a pretty smart move.

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    That is actually really cool. Now, if we could just find something similar that loves plastics…

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