Tongue Clam

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

tongue clam not a clam, not even a mollusc, is a creature which mimics a clamlike bivalve in appearance but is really a brachiopod. The genus Lingula, to which the tongue clam belongs, is of extreme antiquity, indeed according to some authorities the oldest living genus of animals, having survived unchanged for 500 million years or more.

The greenish shell has a maximum length of 45 cm (18"), but with the long stalk (peduncle) extended the creature may be almost twice that length. It lives in a vertical burrow, with just three little holes or a tiny slit in the sand showing where it lurks.