A large female Cumberlandian Combshell (Epioblasma brevidens) photographed at the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture in Knoxville, Tennessee. Mantle lures of this species mimic fish eggs. Other species' mantle lures mimic organisms including insect larvae, small fish, and snails. These lures attract certain species of fish that, after inching close enough, are clamped between the valves of the mussel.
The female mussel then expels her baby mussels (glochidia) into the mouth and gills of the fish, releases the fish, and then relies on the fish to safely swim away, parasitized by the glochidia feeding on the blood flowing through its gills. Weeks (or months) later, the juvenile mussels fall off of the host fish and begin life of their own in the stream bed. #stream #biodiversity #science #museum #specimen #freshwater #mussels #wildlifephotography #cumberland #comb #shell