Boring bivalves

These are some of my favorite bivalve shells as they are a bit unusual!

Bivalves usually sit on the surface of the seabed like Oysters or Clams, the classic sort of shell everyone collects on the beach. Some bivalves bore holes into wood or even rock, to provide a safe home for themselves.  These bivalves have elongated shells which are actually quite thin. The sharp edge of the shell does the boring, sometimes the edges of the shell even has stout spines or other excavation tools.

We usually only find the evidence of these animals in the burrows in fossil wood, which is what we see here in this 200 million year old piece of fossil wood.

It reminds me of when I did my undergraduate mapping project near Dolgellau, Mid Wales.

We had fantastic views over the Barmouth Estuary where the railway runs over a long wooden bridge. There was a story that British Rail did a safety inspection on the bridge in the 1960s and found that every one of the bridge supports have been bored in to by bivalves. The bridge was on the point of collapse.

They soon fixed the problem, but a disastrous train crash was narrowly averted, all because of a tiny bivalve shell.

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4 Responses

  1. Ah, the Pont Abermaw!

    I used to love standing on there when the tide was going in, you’d see thousands of Jellyfish being washed into the estuary I think they were Lion’s Mane if memory serves).

  2. It is a stunningly beautiful part of the world. Well worth a visit

  3. Is your picture of the bridge available to buy?

    • Hello Susan,

      Sorry, but we don’t currently sell our images. I’d suggest trawling the internet for alternatives.

      Thanks,
      David

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