Scissula similis (J. Sowerby, 1806)
Family Tellinidae (Tellin Clams)
A living Scissula similis from Newfound Harbor in the Florida Keys displays its partially extended siphons and foot. Tellins are often brightly colored and so are popular among shell collectors. They are well known for their long siphons, which allow them to deposit feed, using the long extensible incurrent siphon to sweep the superficial detritus for edible food particles. The family Tellinidae is known since the Cretaceous Period and is represented by ca. 90 living genera and ca. 350 species, distributed worldwide but more species-rich in tropical seas.
Evolution on the Half Shell...
The Assembling the Tree of Life: Bivalvia project (BivAToL) is a part of the Assembling the Tree of Life initiative, a large research effort sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Its goal is to reconstruct the evolutionary origins of all living things.
Jetsam & Flotsam
Some of the BivATOL team met in early May at the Mote Marine Laboratory’s Tropical Research Station at Summerland Key, FL for a combined collecting trip and coding workshop. Both activities are essential to our project’s goal of determining the phylogenetic relationships among the bivalve families.
After collection, many of the species’ visible and molecular characteristics must be compared and “coded,” after which the phylogenetic computer analyses will be run to produce the final “tree” from which a hypothesis of relationships can be made. Below is an example of a portion of such a phylogenetic tree. Families that are on nearby branches are more closely related to each other than those further away.