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Lingula (brachiopod)

Lingula is a genus of brachiopods within the class Lingulata. Lingula is known as "moule-à-queue" (tailed mussel) in New Caledonia, "bec de cane" (duck bill) along some coasts in the Indian Ocean, and "shamisen-gai" in Japan (for its likeness to the shamisen, a Japanese lute). Lingula is known to have existed possibly since the Cretaceous or at least the Tertiary. Like its relatives, it has two unadorned phosphatic valves and a long fleshy stalk. Lingula lives in burrows in barren sandy coastal seafloor and feeds by filtering detritus from the water. It can be detected by a short row of three openings through which it takes in water (sides) and expels it again (middle). In Thailand, there is limited Lingula anatina fishery, where it is known as hoi pak ped.[3]

Living fossil[edit]

Lingula has long been considered an example of a living fossil; in fact, the perceived longevity of this genus led Darwin to coin this concept. This living fossil status is now considered unjustified however. This status is based on the shape of the shell only, and it has been shown that this shape corresponds to a burrowing lifestyle, occurring in different brachiopod lineages, with different and evolving internal structures.[1]


Lingula is probably derived from the Latin word for tongue "lingua" and a diminutive suffix -ula, so small tongue. Alternatively it may be derived from the Latin word for spoon (Lingula) directly. The origin of the epithet anatina is not known, but in Latin "anatina" means "belonging to the duck", possibly due to its resemblance to a duck bill. Another possible derivation could be from the French "Anatife" (goose barnacle), for its likeness.[1]


Reassigned species[edit]

The following species, previously assigned to Lingula are now considered better placed in other genera:[4]



  1. ^ a b c d e Emig, Christian C. (2008). "On the history of the names Lingula, anatina, and on the confusion of the forms assigned them among the Brachiopoda". Carnets de Géologie [Notebooks on Geology] (Article 2008/08). 
  2. ^ "Lingulidae". Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Moore, R.C. (1965). Brachiopoda. Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology. Part H., Volume 1. Boulder, Colorado/Lawrence, Kansas: Geological Society of America/University of Kansas Press. pp. H263. ISBN 0-8137-3015-5. 


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