Watch a video of a brachiopod here.
A living Lingula anatina from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST)
Video Credit: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (Standard YouTube License)
What makes a brachiopod a brachiopod?
Brachiopoda is a phylum of marine invertebrates that are commonly referred to as "lamp shells." They are characterized by a shell that consists of two valves, or halves, that are hinged together. Unlike clams and other bivalves which are horizontally symmetrical along their hinge, they are vertically symmetrical across the middle of their shell. The shell protects the soft body of the brachiopod and is often perforated by a number of small holes, through which the animal extends its arms, or lophophores, to filter food from the surrounding water. Brachiopods were once a diverse and abundant group of organisms, but have declined in numbers over time and today, there are only about 385 living species. Brachiopods are considered to be a "living fossil" group, as their basic anatomy and mode of life have changed little over millions of years. Fossilized brachiopod shells are commonly found in rocks and are often used for dating and correlating rock formations.
Total discovered species: 30,000+ fossilized species, 385+ alive
Distribution: Marine only; deep sea and the polar region
Commonly Associated Terms
Evolutionary History & Adaptation
Conservation and Threats
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