Turkey Wing (Arca zebra Swainson, 1833)

Turkey Wing
Arca zebra Swainson, 1833

Turkey Wing:
Clam Suitable for a Pie

By Patricia B. Mitchell.

This handsome brown and white clam shell, named, obviously, for its resemblance to the wing of the wild turkey, is a bivalve found on beaches from North Carolina to the West Indies, and also on Bermuda's shores, as well as in the Mediterranean area. The mollusk attaches itself by its byssus (threadlike filaments) to rocks and other solid objects in shallow water.

The shell may grow to the length of 4 inches. It is a fairly thick shell with an interior of very pale lavender. It has a long series of approximately 50 small teeth on the hinge. The hinge is straight, rather than curving. Living examples are covered with a thick and bristly “carpet” or periostracum.

This Ark Shell is also known by the name “Noah's Ark” because of its shape when the valves are connected. In her 1931 publication The Shell Book, Julia E. Rogers described the shell:

A Noah's ark is at best an irregular box. The prominent umbones are separated by a wide dorsal depression above the straight hinge line. They are near the anterior end of the shell, which slopes downward like the prow of a dug-out.

In Bermuda the Turkey Wing clam is used to make seafood pies.


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