The most important factor controlling the timing of Phanerozoic mineralogical evolution in the Bivalvia appears to be thermal potentiation of calcite deposition in colder marine and estuarine environments. Cold temperature has promoted mineralogical evolution in the Bivalvia by kinetically facilitating (potentiating) initially weak biological controls for calcite, thereby exposing their genetic basis to natural selection. Calcite has evolved in bivalve shells for a variety of selective advantages, including resistance to dissolution; resistance to chemical boring by algae and gastropods; reduced shell density in swimming and soft-bottom reclining species; enhanced flexibility in simple prismatic shell layers; and fracture localization and economy of secretion in association with certain foliated structures. Endogenous calcite in bivalve shells varies from biologically induced to weakly and strongly biologically controlled. Biologically controlled calcite generally first appears in bivalve shells as an impersistent component of the outer shell layer, only later, in some groups, expanding to include the entire outer and then part or all of the middle and inner shell layers. The initial stages of mineralogical evolution are shown by certain modern Mytilidae, Veneridae and Petricolidae. In the latter two families, the calcite occurs as conellae in the outer part of the outer shell layer. Calcitic conellae in the inner shell layer of Pliocene Mercenaria are not barnacle plates, as previously indicated, but endogenous calcite comparable in origin to other venerid conellae. Their occurrence in Mercenaria may reflect thermal potentiation of weak biological controls for calcite, as well as local detachment of the secretory mantle epithelium near the pallial and adductor musculature.

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