Solen vaginoides Lamarck, 1818
Family Solenidae (Razor Clams)
The sheathed siphons of the razor clam, Solen vaginoides, allow it to live sheltered from predators beneath the surface of the mudflat while still maintaining contact with the water for oxygen and food. Siphons are one of the great evolutionary inventions that bivalves have exploited successfully. This species lives in shallow-water mudflats in eastern Australia. Like those in the closely related family, Pharidae, common in the Americas and Europe, solenids are champions of burrowing. They construct more or less permanent vertical burrows in which they can ascend and descend. Rapid burrowing is achieved in some species by expanding and contracting a piston-like foot.
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.