Angel Wing Shell

Angel Wing Shell
Angel Wing Clam
Kingdom: Animalia
Subkingdom: Metazoa
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Bivalvia

Subclass: Heterodonta
Order: Myoida
Family: Pholadidae
Genus: Cyrtopleura
Species: C. costata
Scientific name: Cyrtopleura costata


  The Angel Wing shell derives its common name from the wing like appearance of the shell. It is found in shallow parts of the north west Atlantic living in the seabed where it burrows through sand and mud to a depth of up to 3 feet. It has a pair of brittle, asymmetric white valves and can grow to about 7 inches in length. The whole valve has finely sculptured radial ribs which intercept with a series of concentric growth rings parallel with the margin.
  Cyrtopleura costata is found in shallow seas in the north west Atlantic Ocean between Cape Cod and the Gulf of Mexico. It is also found in the West Indies, Central America and as far south as Brazil. It is commonest in the intertidal zone.
  In the Matthew McConaughey film "Sahara" Matthews character (Dirk Pitt) is at a stop on the Niger River. Dirk tells Dr. Rojas of "the angel wing clam" and calls them "Petricola Pholadiformis" and says that "this river is the only place on the earth they are found." Three problems: First, Petricola Pholadiformis are actually called "False angel wing" and are found many places in the world in fresh
Three views of the Angel Wing Shell
water (but seldom in the Niger River). Second, what's known as the "Angel wing" shell (no "false" in its name) has "Cyrtopleura Costata" as its scientific name. Cyrtopleura Costata ("Angel wing") is found in salt water. Third, Dirk also said they "glow in the dark"; some varieties of Cyrtopleura Costata shells will glow if exposed to ultraviolet light but none glow from their own internal source. Petricola Pholadiformis shells don't glow at all.

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