Bivalves (also called pelecypods) are clam and clam-like, shelled invertebrate (lacking a backbone) animals. Bivalves are a class of mollusk with two valves, which is where they get their name (“bi” means two in Latin). They are the second-most common seashells in the world today behind their cousins, the gastropods (snails). Modern bivalves include clams, cockles, mussels, oysters, and scallops. Bivalves are filter- and deposit-feeding organisms that take in water and particles through the opening between their valves or siphons which extend out of the shell and filter food particles from the water through soft parts inside their shells. Different bivalves live in fresh, brackish, and marine water.

Generalized diagram of a living bivalve. Not all bivalves have a foot or large siphons.

Content and graphics by Stephen Greb, Kentucky Geological Survey



Last Modified on 2023-01-05
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