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  • Author: Krzysztof Roman Brom x
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Krzysztof Roman Brom and Krzysztof Szopa

Abstract

Environmental adaptation of molluscs during evolution has led to form biomineral exoskeleton – shell. The main compound of their shells is calcium carbonate, which is represented by calcite and/or aragonite. The mineral part, together with the biopolymer matrix, forms many types of microstructures, which are differ in texture. Different types of internal shell microstructures are characteristic for some bivalve groups. Studied bivalve species (freshwater species – duck mussel (Anodonta anatina Linnaeus, 1758) and marine species – common cockle (Cerastoderma edule Linnaeus, 1758), lyrate Asiatic hard clam (Meretrix lyrata Sowerby II, 1851) and blue mussel (Mytilus edulis Linnaeus, 1758)) from different locations and environmental conditions, show that the internal shell microstructure with the shell morphology and thickness have critical impact to the ability to survive in changing environment and also to the probability of surviving predator attack. Moreover, more detailed studies on molluscan structures might be responsible for create mechanically resistant nanomaterials.

Open access

Krzysztof Roman Brom, Krzysztof Szopa, Tomasz Krzykawski, Tomasz Brachaniec and Mariusz Andrzej Salamon

Abstract

Shelly fauna was exposed to increased pressure exerted by shell-crushing durophagous predators during the so-called Mesozoic Marine Revolution that was initiated in the Triassic. As a result of evolutionary ‘arms race’, prey animals such as bivalves, developed many adaptations to reduce predation pressure (e.g. they changed lifestyle and shell morphology in order to increase their mechanical strength). For instance, it was suggested that Pectinidae had acquired the ability to actively swim to avoid predator attack during the early Mesozoic. However, pectinids are also know to have a specific shell microstructure that may effectively protect them against predators. For instance, we highlight that the shells of some recent pectinid species (e.g. Pecten maximus) that display cross-lamellar structures in the middle part playing a significant role in the energy dissipation, improve the mechanical strength. In contrast, the outer layers of these bivalves are highly porous, which allow them to swim more efficiently by reducing the shell weight. Pectinids are thus perfect examples of animals optimising their skeletons for several functions. We suggest that such an optimisation of their skeletons for multiple functions likely occurred as a results of increased predation pressure during the so-called Mesozoic Marine Revolution.