Clam opens up as giant 'tongue' licks salt off table (video)

"It's probably trying to find a place to dig," says ocean biologist

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The moment a clam opened up on a kitchen table and appeared to lick salt off the surface with its tongue has been captured on camera.

Despite looking like a giant tongue, Scripps Institution of Oceanography biologist Miriam Goldstein told io9 that it is actually the clam's foot, which it uses to survey, burrow and transport itself across sandy beaches.

Goldstein adds: "It's probably trying to find a place to dig. I doubt the salt has anything to do with it."

The way clams actually eat is by filtering dissolved food particles through gills inside their shells. Food is transported to the mouth by another internal structure known as the palp.

Last year, the world's oldest animal, a clam, was accidentally killed by scientists while they tried to find out how old the creature was.

Ming the Mollusc was born in 1499, making it 507 when it was found.

But experts from Bangor University, who were unaware of its age, placed it in a freezer before opening and killing it.

Initially they thought the clam was 400 years old after counting the number of rings on the inside of its shell.

Ocean scientist Paul Butler said: "We got it wrong the first time and maybe we were a bit hasty publishing our findings back then. But we are absolutely certain that we've got the right age now."

Marine biologist Rob Witbaard added: "The age has been confirmed with a variety of methods, including geochemical methods such as the carbon-14 method. So I am very confident that they have now determined the right age. If there is any error, it can only be one or two years."

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