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edible freshwater or marine bivalvebivalve,
aquatic mollusk of the class Pelecypoda ("hatchet-foot") or Bivalvia, with a laterally compressed body and a shell consisting of two valves, or movable pieces, hinged by an elastic ligament.
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 mollusk. Mussels are able to move slowly by means of the muscular foot. They feed and breathe by filtering water through extensible tubes called siphons; a large mussel filters 10 gal (38 liters) of water per day. The close-fitting shells protect the mussel from desiccation and enable it to live high up on the shore. Most marine mussels belong to the single family, Mytilidae. They are widespread and are especially abundant in cooler seas. They form extensive, crowded beds, anchoring themselves by the byssus, a secretion of strong threads. The blue mussel grows up to 3 in. (7.6 cm) and is common along the Atlantic coast; the smaller hooked mussel has a more southerly range. The horse mussel, found in deeper waters, grows to 6 in. (15 cm) in length.

Freshwater mussels, most of which belong to families the order Unionoida, are not closely related to the marine species. They are chiefly of two kinds: the large, dark-shelled burrowing mussels, a source of pearls and of mother-of-pearl; and the tiny "fingernail clams" found on the bottoms of clear pools and brooks. Freshwater mussels of the family Unionidae, sometimes called clams, pass through a parasitic larval state, living on the fins, gills, and bodies of fishes.

The thumbnail-sized zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, is a small freshwater mussel native to Europe that was introduced in the 1980s into the Great Lakes. Lacking natural predators, it has proliferated and spread widely in North America, clogging intake pipes at water and power facilities and disrupting native ecosystems. The larger quagga mussel, D. rostriformis bugensis, also native to Europe, was first found in the Great Lakes in 1989 and has largely supplanted the zebra mussel there. Quagga populations are also found in the Colorado and upper Missisippi river basins and in associated waterways. Zebra and quagga mussels are more closely related to the true clamsclam,
common name for certain bivalve mollusks, especially for marine species that live buried in mud or sand and have valves (the two pieces of the shell) of equal size.
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 and cocklescockle,
common name applied to the heart-shaped, jumping or leaping marine bivalve mollusks, belonging to the order Eulamellibranchia. The brittle shells are of uniform size, are obliquely spherical, and possess distinct radiating ridges, or ribs, which aid the animal in
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 than other mussels.

Mussels are classified in the phylum MolluscaMollusca
, taxonomic name for the one of the largest phyla of invertebrate animals (Arthropoda is the largest) comprising more than 50,000 living mollusk species and about 35,000 fossil species dating back to the Cambrian period.
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, class Pelecypoda or Bivalvia.

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1. any of various marine bivalves of the genus Mytilus and related genera, esp M. edulis (edible mussel), having a dark slightly elongated shell and living attached to rocks, etc.,
2. any of various freshwater bivalves of the genera Anodonta, Unio, etc., attached to rocks, sand, etc. having a flattened oval shell (a source of mother-of-pearl). The zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, can be a serious nuisance in water mains
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Now a team of marine scientists from Edinburgh Napier University and Heriot Watt University have looked at the impact on mussels.
'But I decided to stick to selling mussel. This is better.
Freshwater mussel stocks declined in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as a result of brazen, point-source river pollution and large-scale disruptions from dam, reservoir, and channelization projects.
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County's Urban Stream Research Center -- the only facility of its kind in Illinois -- is helping boost populations of freshwater mussels in waterways in Kane and McHenry counties.
It proves especially helpful in studies of Mytilus-Asterias interactions because sea stars usually leave behind clean mussel shells without any soft tissues for genotyping (VK and AM, pers.
The large waves that struck the East Coast following the change in monsoon winds brought good income for residents in Pantai Kempadang Beach, here, when hundreds of thousands of mussels were found washed ashore since yesterday morning.
<B Dr John Taylor, Natural Resources Wales' fisheries and aquaculture technical specialist, demonstrates the freshwater pearl mussel breeding programme at Cynrig hatchery in Brecon
In spite of the benefits from spices, the impact on health of people consuming high amounts of wheatpurple rice flour mixed with mussel powder remains unstudied and requires clarification.
The Department of Interior is critical for augmenting efforts of the States in preventing the spread of invasive mussels through such means as establishing and delegation invasive species operating watercraft inspection stations and invasive mussel monitoring.
Mussels themselves can take strong punchy flavours - such as a fresh, zingy, spicy Thai broth with coconut milk and lemongrass or another favourite way to eat them is cooked in a rich tomato and chorizo sauce flavoured with chilli and smoked paprika.