Disco didn't die, it just moved ... into this Disco Clam who has its own far-out strobe-light show! Meet the Wakatobi Disco Clam, the only bivalve known to produce a controlled light show in its mouth.
But why does the Disco Clam produce such a Disco Inferno display? It's probably related to how it is, erhm, Stayin' Alive. Or perhaps That's The Way I(t) Like(s) It. In any case, UC Berkeley researcher Lindsey Dougherty and colleages are Think(ing) About It:
"Displays are only useful when the intended receiver has the photoreceptors and neural network necessary to process it," says Dougherty.
The researchers are now trying to determine the purpose of the display. Although clams are filter feeders, the light show might help lure additional prey. It could also be a way of warding off predators, although there is no proof that it's distasteful or toxic. It might also be a mating call used by females to attract juvenile males, causing them to settle nearby before they mass spawn. "We think the clams might be hermaphrodites, starting out as small males and maturing into large females, but we have yet to confirm this," says Dougherty.