orange-nacre mucket is one of at least 3 species which produce "superconglutinates".
The contents of both marsupial gills are extruded simultaneously within
a mucus jacket, and remain tethered to the female by a clear mucus
cord. The cord may extend up to several feet in length. This
remarkable phenomenon was discovered in 1993 by Wendell Haag, Bob
Butler, and Paul Hartfield.
Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
the first picture, the superconglutinate has just cleared the excurrent
siphon. The mucus cord is barely visible. Note the
"eyespots" decorating the conglutinates. Host
fishes for this mussel include Coosa bass.
|In the second photo, the cord is several inches long. As it continues to elongate, water currents will suspend the superconglutinates and cause them to "swim" with action as convincing as any bass lure. See the movie below!|
|This photograph shows another super-conglutinate from a different individual at the same site. Note the different coloration from the first specimen. Also notice the "countershading". This is a nice touch to the lure, because fishes typically have a light colored ventral side and darker dorsum.|
|This close-up shows the individual units that make up the super-conglutinate. Each unit is the contents of an individual demibranch water-tube (sensu Ortmann 1911). The two halves of the superconglutinate are derived from the two marsupial demibranchs. The halves can separate, forming a pair of lures on separate lines.|
|Video: In the first sequence the conglutinate is still attached to the female. The other two sequences show conglutinates that were found suspended in submerged vegetation. The MPEG-1 file about 2MB. You need a suitable player, such as the Windows Media Player that comes with Windows.|
These individuals were photographed and videotaped in Brushy Creek, Winston County, Alabama. Thanks to Wendell Haag for advising us on where and when to find these amazing mussels!
Unio Gallery— Home Page http://unionid.missouristate.edu. Copyright 1998-2006 by M. C. Barnhart. Please see Usage Policy for conditions of use of images and video.