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  • Jaejeong & Jaeah Kim

Mussel (& Barnacle) Dissection || Of the Crow-Blue Mussel Shells

What lies inside a mussel’s shell? How do mussels keep their shells shut? Find out as you learn how to dissect a mussel in this video, which also covers its external and internal anatomy and physiology. In this simple dissection of a mussel, you’ll learn various parts of its anatomy, what exactly a “mother of pearl” is, and how mussels attach themselves to rocks.

Mussels are a species of bivalves that are often overlooked due to their simplistic external appearance and relative abundance. However, did you know that mussels can filter up to 15 gallons of water a day, or that freshwater mussels are the most endangered group of organisms in North America? In this video, you’ll learn general information about mussels (& barnacles!), which will be tied into their anatomical structures and physiological importance.

This dissection lab is for anyone who is curious about mussel anatomy, wants to cover mussel anatomy for a zoology course, missed the mussel dissection during biology class, or just wondered, “what more is there to a mussel than two shells and a fleshy interior?” The video will teach you how to dissect a mussel (& barnacle) step by step, and review the external and internal anatomy of the mussel.

In this video, we’ll cover the following structures of a mussel:

Shells Labial palps

Hinge Mouth

Growth rings Foot

Beak Byssus

Posterior adductor muscle Visceral mass

Anterior adductor muscle Gonads

Mantle Digestive gland

Nacreous layer Intestine

Gills Heart

In this video, we’ll cover the following structures of a barnacle:

Mouth Stomach

Cirri (feeding legs) Intestine

If you want to learn more about mussel anatomy, here’s a link to a website with more detailed information, as well as diagrams:

If you have any questions regarding mussel anatomy, dissection methodology, or general biology, feel free to leave a comment. We'll try our best to reply.


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