Thursday, May 5, 2016

Giant Clams: Facts and Fun




The giantess of the giant clams is Tridacna gigas.  Lady Gigas, to you. 

You can just hear her saying, Velllcome, kittens. I am so glad to see you. If only I had eyes, mwahaha! 

But she's no killer queen. The claim that a clam can kill a man by clamping their lips closed has never been substantiated.    However, in folklore, there exists the shen, the Chinese clam-monster, "The shape-shifting shen is believed to cause a mirage or Fata Morgana. Shen synonyms meaning mirage include  shènlóu  (with "multi-storied building",  "clam castle" or "high house of the clam-monsters"), shènqì shènqìlóu hǎishì shènlóu 海市蜃樓, and shènjǐng ." 

A more recent shen is Man Clam, a  B-movie character:



I know what I'm being for Halloween -- Girl Man Clam -- but giant clams have a lifestyle far from horror and closer to coral. They photosynthesize. 

“What makes this system in the clam special is that the design can extract every last photon from sunlight,”

Giant clams are a Plant-Animal. Plantimal?  Symbiotic algae live within the clams' "fleshy mantle." I am not making this up.

"Fleshy mantle" is a phrase from a Shell Shocked-style low-budget horror-movie script and also science. So from now on I'm calling my muffin top fleshy mantle but then I also call my fanny pack my encircling purse. The vaguely scientific naming of  my shameful parts is totally my jam. 




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