The Flashy, Fascinating Disco Clam

Excited for the August 21 eclipse? Visit our Eclipse 2017 page to explore the science, history, and myths of the event. The Curiosity team will be viewing the eclipse alongside NASA in Carbondale, Illinois. Follow us on Facebook for live videos, trivia, and interviews on the big day.

Until recently, scientists didn't know how the disco clam produced its flashes, and thought that they might be a type of bioluminescence. In actuality, there are highly reflective silica nanospheres in one side of the clam's fleshy tissue. By rapidly flipping its tissue back and forth, the clam appears to create bright bands of light.

Share the knowledge!

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Disco clams have about 40 eyes. 00:41

  2. The reflective side of the disco clam's tissue is full of silica nanospheres. 01:52

  3. Disco clams could potentially acquire their silica by ingesting diatoms. 02:15

If you liked this you'll love our podcast! Check it out on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, search 'curiosity' on your favorite podcast app or add the RSS Feed URL.