Selection of CT-scanned marine bivalves from the Florida Keys, USA.

Bivalve 3D (biv3d)

With Katie Collins, Tingran Gao, Kaustuv Roy, Rüdiger Bieler, and David Jablonski.

Admittedly, it’s an ambitious effort to CT scan every living marine bivalve species that occurs along the continental shelf (less than 200m water depth), but we currently stand at ~2500 species and counting (of ~6000 total). These 3D models of the bivalve shell are giving us unprecedented access to the variation in bivalve form, and have provided us with the raw material to explore the relationship between this third “currency” of biodiversity and its more commonly studied taxonomic and functional components. We’re especially excited to be working with Tingran Gao on developing novel methods for quantifying the complex and diverse forms seen across all of Bivalvia.

As mentioned above, we’ve sampled nearly a quarter of currently known shallow-water marine bivalve species. However, at the genus level, we’re up to nearly ~90% coverage! See the current genus-level coverage in the plot below.

The bivalve below is Neotrigonia margaritacea from Australia. Hyperdiverse in the Mesozoic, this family has dwindled down to the lone genus Neotrigonia. Click and drag on the mesh to rotate, use the mouse wheel or trackpad to zoom in and out, and right click to pan. Thank you to Aaron Olsen and his new R package svgViewR for making this html rendering of the mesh possible.

Our workflow pictured below includes sampling lots from museum collections, packaging specimens for transport and scanning in foam “burritos”, scanning specimens in the paleo-CT facility at UChicago, and finally reconstructing digital meshes of specimens such as the Neotrigonia pictured above.

NASA and NSF support this research, and thank you to the following museums that have kindly loaned us hundreds of specimens and given us the freedom to so extensively sample the collections in their care:

  • The Field Museum of Natural History – Rüdiger Bieler and Jochen Gerber
  • The National Museum of Natural History – Ellen Strong, Chris Meyer, and Chad Walter
  • The Florida Museum of Natural History – Douglas Jones, Michal Kowalewski, Gustav Paulay, John Slapcinsky, and Roger Portell
  • California Academy of Sciences – Peter Roopnarine and Liz Kools
  • Paleontological Research Institution – Greg Dietl and Leslie Skibinski
  • Victoria University of Wellington – Mike Hannah, Dene Carroll
  • GNS Science – Alan Beu, Marianna Terezow, John Simes
  • Natural History Museum, London – Tom White, Andreia Salvador



Bivalves unhinged: Hingeplate morphology and lifestyle in the Veneridae
Jan 6, 2018