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The amber pen shell has a pair of long, thin translucent valves held together by ligaments that run along the entire dorsal side of the bivalve. The bivalve is triangular with 8 to 12 low ribs radiating from the pointed anterior end (or umbo) to the large posterior edge. The exterior of the shell is usually a dull orange amber-like color and may have fragile, scale-like spines that often become eroded over time. The anterior end is usually buried and attached by byssal threads, whereas its wider posterior gaping end extends above the sea bottom surface to facilitate filter-feeding. Algae (e.g. Lobophora variegata) and invertebrates such as sponges and encrusting corals tend to grow on the exposed part of the shell and may camouflage it very well.
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