A rock-boring and rock-ingesting freshwater bivalve (shipworm) from the Philippines

J. Reuben Shipway, Marvin A. Altamia, Gary Rosenberg, Gisela P. Concepcion, Margo G. Haygood, Daniel L. Distel

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Shipworms are a group of wood-boring and wood-feeding bivalves of extraordinary economic, ecological and historical importance. Known in the literature since the fourth century BC, shipworms are both destructive pests and critical providers of ecosystem services. All previously described shipworms are obligate wood-borers, completing all or part of their life cycle in wood and most are thought to use wood as a primary source of nutrition. Here, we report and describe a new anatomically and morphologically divergent species of shipworm that bores in carbonate limestone rather than in woody substrates and lacks adaptations associated with wood-boring and wood digestion. The species is highly unusual in that it bores by ingesting rock and is among the very few known freshwater rock-boring macrobioeroders. The calcareous burrow linings of this species resemble fossil borings normally associated with bivalve bioerosion of wood substrates (ichnospecies Teredolites longissimus) in marginal and fully marine settings. The occurrence of this newly recognized shipworm in a lithic substrate has implications for teredinid phylogeny and evolution, and interpreting palaeoenvironmental conditions based on fossil bioerosion features.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20190434
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1905
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2019


  • shipworms
  • teredinidae
  • macrobioerosion
  • rock-boring
  • freshwater ecology
  • palaeontology


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