Surprising nature moments

I did my master’s degree at East Carolina U. One of my favorite nature places at that time was River Park North, just across the river from the town. I would hike to the very end of the trail, and then there was a sign saying that beyond that point was all undeveloped, enter at own risk. As far as I could tell, nobody but me ever went back there, although it was full of trash – I believe deposited there by the floods of Hurricane Floyd some years prior.

I had a few fun surprises back there. One was a flock of wild turkeys passing by, entirely in the forest canopy. But the biggest treat, I thought, was coming to a depression and finding it full of dead shells of fingernail clams. It was a vernal pool – one in the forest, and not sequestered away in a closed nature reserve, but rather, protected by people’s reluctance to leave the marked trails. That was my only sighting ever of fingernail clams – to this day, I have never seen one alive. My goodness, it was hard to find any useful information about identifying these; but I think they were the Oblong Orb-Mussel, of which iNaturalist currently has only two observations. Too bad I didn’t take pictures then! I go back to that city periodically, so perhaps I shall try to find that vernal pool again.

This blog introduces the wonders of these clams: Woodland clams are a thing


That is incredible!

In my experience fingernail clams are actually fairly common, but frequently overlooked and difficult to identify, especially without magnification (which would be why individual species have such few representatives here). There also hasn’t been much taxonomic work done done in North America since 1962.

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