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Mussel
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Scientific Name Mytilidae
Conservation Status Least Concern
Family Bivalve
Habitat Shorelines all over the world
Food Plankton


The common name mussel is used for members of several families of clams or bivalvia mollusca, from saltwater and freshwater habitats. These groups have in common a shell whose outline is elongated and asymmetrical compared with other edible clams, which are often more or less rounded or oval.

The word "mussel" is most frequently used to mean the edible bivalves of the marine family Mytilidae, most of which live on exposed shores in the intertidal zone, attached by means of their strong byssal threads ("beard") to a firm substrate. A few species (in the genus Bathymodiolus) have colonized hydrothermal vents associated with deep ocean ridges.

In most marine mussels the shell is longer than it is wide, being wedge-shaped or asymmetrical. The external color of the shell is often dark blue, blackish, or brown, while the interior is silvery and somewhat nacreous.

Both marine and freshwater mussels are filter feeders; they feed on plankton and other microscopic sea creatures which are free-floating in seawater.

Marine mussels are eaten by humans, sea stars, seabirds, and by numerous species of predatory marine gastropods in the family Muricidae, such as the dog whelk, Nucella lapillus.

Marine mussels are abundant in the low and mid intertidal zone in temperate seas globally.

Humans have used mussels as food for thousands of years.

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