Meet the giant clam at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science that witnessed a nuclear bomb drop

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Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
A giant clam shell collected from the Bikini Atoll and now lives in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science’s basement archives. March 1, 2023.

In Denver, there’s a place deep underground that houses flesh-eating beetles, precious artifacts and dead animals. That includes one that witnessed an atomic bomb test.

It lives in the archives of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. And the public rarely sees it – though that could change later this year.

The witness in question is a giant clam – scientific name Tridacna gigas. The two halves of its huge shell are separated, with each standing next to the other on an industrial metal shelf. And it’s a good thing the shelf is so strong because this species of clam can weigh more than 500 pounds.

Each half of the shell is at least three feet wide, and it stands at two feet tall. It even has smaller shells attached to it on the outside.

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