Murder necklace

The beast engulfs the victim in its massive, fleshy foot. The victim sits inside its armor, sure of its protection. It hears something scrape against the armor. Then a spitting sound. Then scraping. Scrape. Spit. Scrape. Spit. Scrape. The victim does not know that the beast has a mouth full of acid to weaken the armor and a chainsaw tongue to cut through. The victim – immobilized in what was supposed to be protective armor – has no choice but to be eaten alive as the rasping tongue of the beast scrapes out the soft-tissue of the victim like a knife that scrapes peanut butter from the jar. When finished, the beast opens its fleshy foot and releases the victim. And then you come along and make what’s left of the victim into a necklace and give it to your sweetheart.

The beach is a crime scene, littered with the victims of molluskan murder. You or your sweetheart may be wearing one of the murdered on your neck. You know that shell you found on the beach with a perfectly drilled hole in it that you made into a necklace for your sweetheart? That was a clam or scallop or mussel that was eaten alive by a an acid-dripping, chainsaw tongued predator. A predator that is also a murderous snail.

Moon snails (Polinces spp.) are common hunters in the sands of our shores and seek their molluskan kin for supper. Moon snails are not your garden variety garden snail, which are vegetarians. Moon snails are 100% meat eaters. To hunt its prey, which are mostly clams and other bivalves, a moon snail burrows through the sand and engulf its prey in a fat, fleshy foot. Then the snail opens its chemistry kit and drips a bit of acid onto the clam’s shell to soften it. Then using a specialized tongue called a radula (most snails have radulas) it scrapes away the acid-softened shell. Radulas are snail tongues with backward facing teeth that act like schizophrenic chainsaws that reverse and go forward over and over to scrape algae off of rocks or layers off of shells. The hole is perfect for the tongue to enter and scrape out the soft tissue of its prey. The clam is eaten alive. And then you thread a string through the murder hole to display your lacking concern for the victim.


Welcome to October!

The murderer and the victims in a crime scene from Plum Island, Massachusetts.
The murderer and the victims in a crime scene from Plum Island, Massachusetts.

One thought on “Murder necklace

  1. David, Great post!

    We have made the NH migration – you & yours should come on up!!


    R. Scott Warren Tempel Professor of Botany Emeritus Connecticut College

    860-572-0143 (summer) 603-456-3664 (winter) 603-439-1773 (cell)


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s