Laevicardium serratum (Linnaeus, 1758)
Family Cardiidae (Heart Cockles and Giant Clams)
The egg cockle’s powerful foot allows it to bury rapidly in the sand or move by short leaps or swim for short distances to evade predators, such as starfish and seabirds. Heart cockles are fished in many parts of the world for human consumption, and are often of substantial economic importance. The common name “heart cockle” refers to the shell outline in anterior view (a lateral view is shown here). A recent scientific study has shown that Giant Clams also belong to this family, though their “upside-down” anatomy, symbiotic algae, and sessile habits make them unusual and unique members.
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.