Razor Shell (solen, Linn.), the type of the lamellibranchiate family of solenidae. The genus is characterized by two adductor muscles, the mantle open anteriorly and produced into two short united siphons, the branchiae attached to the lower; the foot is long and club-shaped; the shells are elongated, equivalve, and gaping at both ends; the hinge has two or three compressed teeth in each valve, and is nearly terminal; the ligament is long and external. The common razor shell of our coast is the S. ensis (Linn.), of a scabbard shape, about 6 in. long and an inch high, with rounded ends, white within and covered outside by a glossy yellowish or brownish green epidermis. It is found on sandy beaches near low-water mark, where it burrows beneath the surface, whence it is sometimes displaced by storms; it descends into the sand with astonishing rapidity; the animal is cylindrical, longer than the shell, and is often used as food under the names of long claw, knife handle, and razor fish. The S. siliqua and S. curtus of Europe have similar habits, sinking vertically in the sand, foot downward; their burrows are sometimes 2 ft. deep, and they ascend and descend in them very quickly by widening or narrowing the foot.

They are used as food, and as bait for cod and haddock; their burrows may be known by small orifices like keyholes, into which the fishermen put a little salt; this so irritates the tubes that the animal ascends near the surface, and is dragged out with an iron hook. They are found in almost all seas.

Common Razor Shell (Solen ensis).

Common Razor Shell (Solen ensis).