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036

Brachiopods

OLogy Series
animal
card
036

Brachiopods

OLogy Series
animal

What looks like an oyster, snacks on tiny ocean animals, and has lived in Earth's oceans for over 545 million years? It's the brachiopods! These creatures are still around today. And they are sometimes confused with other shelled animals, like clams, because they look so much alike. One of the biggest mass extinctions of all time killed off most species of Brachiopods 250 million years ago.

Brachiopods spend most of their time:

buried deep in the sand

hanging out on the ocean floor

competing in swim meets with oysters and clams

Are you right?

Correct!

Brachiopods are the couch potatoes of the ocean. They spend most of their time in one place on the ocean floor while waiting for a small edible marine creature to pass by.

Brachiopods attach themselves to hard surfaces with:

Elmer's Glue

potato chip clips

their pedicles

Are you right?

Correct!

A pedicle is a fleshy "arm" that many brachiopods use to anchor themselves onto hard surfaces. It looks sort of like a tongue!

Modern brachiopods are commonly known as lamp shells because they glow under the dark depths of the ocean.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Brachiopods don't really glow. They are also known as lamp shells because some of them are shaped like ancient Roman oil lamps.

Pronunciation: brak-E-o-podz
Phylum: Brachiopoda ("ArmFoot")
Habitat: deep ocean and caves
Age: Early Cambrian 545 million years ago to present
Size: 0.5 to 4 inches (1.25 to 10 centimenters)
Number of Living Species: about 300
Characteristics: filter-feeder, uses lophophore to catch prey, covered by two shells

Image credits: courtesy of AMNH.