Ctenoides ales

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Ctenoides ales
Ctenoides ales by OpenCage.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Bivalvia
Order: Limoida
Family: Limidae
Genus: Ctenoides
Species: C. ales
Binomial name
Ctenoides ales
(Finlay, 1927)

Ctenoides ales is a species of saltwater clam, a marine bivalve mollusk in the family Limidae, the file clams. It is known by the names electric flame scallop, disco scallop, electric clam and disco clam. The clam has been given these nicknames because its soft tissues flash light like a disco ball. It is the only bivalve known to have light displays.[1]

The electric clam is widespread throughout the tropical waters of the central Indo-Pacific region from Indonesia to Palau Islands and New-Caledonia.[2]

Research by graduate student Lindsey Dougherty showed that the apparent flashing-light display of this clam is not a bioluminescence phenomenon, but is instead coming from reflection of the ambient light (sun or diving light). A staff member of the Lembeh Resort in Indonesia, where Dougherty was working with Dimpy Jacobs in August 2013, wrote, "The clams have a highly reflective tissue on the very outer edge of their mantle that is exposed and then hidden very quickly, so the change back and forth from the white reflective tissue to the red tissue creates the appearance of flashing".[3][4]

Dougherty went on to discover that the brightly reflective edge of the mantle of these clams contains nano-spheres made of silica, which are very reflective.[5]


  1. ^ Dougherty and Caldwell (2013). Mechanisms, ultrastructure and behavioral function of flashing in Ctenoides ales: "electric scallops". Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, 2013 Annual Meeting. Retrieved 11 September 2014.
  2. ^ "UCMP profile: Lindsey Dougherty". University of California Museum of Paleontology. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
  3. ^ "Is the Electric Clam Really Electric? - Lembeh Resort and Critters at Lembeh in North Sulawesi, Indonesia". Lembehresort.com. 2013-08-21. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
  4. ^ "Disco Scallops Know How to Boogie Even if They Aren't Scallops". Deep Sea News. 2013-01-26. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
  5. ^ National Geographic website, Newswatch, "How the 'Disco Clam' lights It Up Underwater" by Stefan Sirucek in Weird & Wild, June 25, 2014 [1] accessed 2014-6-27

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