The Italian Almanac

giant clam shell

Italian News - September 13

A museum in northeast Italy was delighted on Tuesday by the return of a rare, giant shell that was recently snatched by thieves. The Giant Clam, or Tridacna Gigas, weighing a whopping 151 kilos was nabbed in August from the Mollusc Museum in the seaside town of Cupra Marittima. But it turned up again early on Tuesday morning, deposited on the pavement outside the museum.

Local police said the thieves had evidently decided the shell was too difficult to sell to any dealers. The museum's founders, the brothers Tiziano and Vincenzo Cossignani, were delighted that the clam was back, they had been convinced the enormous shell was lost for good.

Giant Clams are found in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. They can weigh up to 180 kilos and measure as much as 1.5 metres across. Once known as the killer or man-eating clam, it used to be believed that the Triadacna Gigas could kill humans by trapping them in their shells.

The claim was even made by reputable scientific and technical manuals, and an old version of the US Navy Diving Manual provided divers with instructions on how to free themselves from its clasp. But, as later studies showed, the clam's closing action is a defensive response and takes place far too slowly to represent any real threat to divers.