Human food source, both through wild harvest and aquaculture. Commercial categories (in order of increasing size) include seed clams, beans, buttons, littlenecks, topnecks, cherrystones, and chowders. Esteemed as food item, reflected in its status as the official state shell of Rhode Island. American aquaculture groups stress the brown-marked notata form, which bears the visible "brand" of a farm-raised product. Drilled shell pieces were historically produced as wampum beads by Native Americans in the eastern United States. Wampum beads were used within tribes for gifts, exchange, and ornaments but not as money; wampum served as currency, however, for European settlers in the original thirteen colonies as late as 1701. Mercenaria mercenaria is presently being investigated for the anticancer activity of its digestive gland. Also used in college-level zoology courses to study invertebrate anatomy. ♦
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