Popularly called “steamers”, “softshells”, “longnecks”, Soft Shell clams are a species of invasive edible saltwater marine bivalve mollusks.
These clams live buried in the mud on tidal mudflats on the Pacific Coast of North America, including Alaska, Canada and the continental United States. Ironically M. arenaria originated in the Pacific Ocean during the Miocene. (5 to 23 million years ago) It extended its range in the early Pliocene to the Atlantic, including European waters. The Pacific and European populations became extinct some-time in the early Pleistocene, (2.5 million years ago) leaving only the Northwest Atlantic population, which subsequently spread via humans to its current distribution, “coming home” in a saga millions of years in the making!
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