Rocks may not seem like a delightful meal to the majority of life-forms, however it’s on the menu for a recently determined types of a plump, bizarre-looking clam.

Nevertheless, though this clam takes in limestone, its innovators aren’t sure if the animal snags any real food from those rocks. For example, do the germs in the clam’s gut aid to break down the rock and release nutrients?

” We wish to take a look at the symbionts, the germs that live inside these animals, to see if they are supplying any nutrition, and this is a location of research study we are presently concentrating on,” stated research study lead scientist Reuben Shipway, a postdoctoral scientist at the Marine Science Center at Northeastern University in Massachusetts. [In Photos: Spooky Deep-Sea Creatures]

The newly found clam is a kind of shipworm, the name for a group of clams so called since they feast on wood, particularly from ships. Wood is tough to consume, however adjustments assist these clams burrow into the product; those adjustments consist of “little rows of little, sharp teeth on the shell and an unique organ for wood storage and food digestion, called the caecum,” Shipway informed Live Science.

Every recognized shipworm consumes wood, so Shipway and his coworkers were amazed when Philippine residents in Bohol province informed them in 2018 about a freshwater shipworm that consumed rocks. In your area, it’s referred to as “antingaw,” and young moms consume it since they believe it will assist them lactate, he stated. (The newly found types was kept in mind in a current exploration led by French biologist Philippe Bouchet at the Museum of Nature in Paris, however it was the residents who assisted the brand-new group find the strange shipworm, the scientists stated.)

This rock has 12 burrows in it that were made by limestone-eating shipworms.

This rock has 12 burrows in it that were made by limestone-eating shipworms.

Credit: Reuben Shipway; Marvin Altamia

Unlike other shipworms, the recently called Lithoredo abatanica(which approximately indicates “rock shipworm from the Abatan River”) has actually lost all its wood-boring adjustments, consisting of the caecum, Shipway stated. Rather, this clam’s “shell has these truly big, shovel-like forecasts for digging into rock,” he stated.

The animal’s shell crunches the rock, which the animal then consumes, digests and expels as a great sand. “There are a little number of animals that do consume rock– for instance, birds utilize gizzard stones to assist food digestion,” Shipway stated. “However Lithoredo abatanica is the just recognized animal that consumes rock through burrowing.”

The newly described rock-eating shipworm, known as <i>Lithoredo abatanica</i>.”></p>
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The recently explained rock-eating shipworm, referred to as Lithoredo abatanica (***** ). Credit: Reuben Shipway; Marvin Altamia (*************** ). .

He explained the rock-eating clams as “quite unusual– they are plump, clear, worm-like clams.” The majority of the specimens the scientists gathered were 4 inches(10 centimeters)
long, however a couple of people were much bigger.(***** ).

“When I was diving in the river, I saw burrows that were over 2 feet [60 cm] in length!” Shipway stated. “So, there might be some outright beasts living deep in the rock.”

By consuming rock, L. abatanica is actually altering the course of the river, Shipway included. “These burrows likewise offer environment for numerous other types residing in the river, consisting of crabs and fish,” he stated. “This is a really uncommon, yet really essential procedure in freshwater environments.”

The research study was released online today (June 19) in the journal Procedures of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Initially released on Live Science