Question: How many fish do you think are in this photo below?
Answer: None!!! The thing that looks like a fish, is actually the mouth parts to the Broken Ray freshwater mussel. If you have the passion of fly fishing, you have nothing on these little guys.
Broken Rays Mussel (Lampsilis reeveiana) have evolved a special adaptation that allows their existence to be certain. They have evolved with a built in fishing lure! The thing is, this lure is not used for what you might think. Most lures are used for catching their prey, but this lure is instead a parasitic sac filed with thousands of tiny Mussels.
What happens, is as the fish are lured in for a nibble, but as soon as the fish touch the sac, the mussel blasts the fish with it’s tiny parasitic offspring (glochidia), which will reside in the fish’s gills until fully developed. The parasitic larva attach themselves to the gills. They have the ability to develop a cyst on these blood-rich tissues, allowing them to be protected and nourished until they are developed, which can be anywhere from 10 to 30 days
These mussels look like any average bivalve mollusc, but what defines them as this species, is this extended fleshy mantle that they are able to control it’s contractions in order to look more like a fish. Obviously, the better the imitation of a fish, the better chances these Mussels will be able to continue it’s genetic line.
(See attached video, it is truly sublime).