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Byssus

From Academic Kids

The term byssus (sometimes byssal thread, or byssus thread) denotes strong threads secreted by mussels to attach to rocks and large, generally heavy objects in the intertidal zone. They range to 6 centimeters in length.

The term that entered English via Greek bussos, meaning linen, flax, from an ultimate Egyptian root meaning linen.

Royalty of ancient times favored textiles spun from byssal threads; they called such threads sea silk. The cloak of a Roman Centurion, the rainment of the Egyptian King Tutankhamun, and the golden fleece sought by Jason and the Argonauts have been reputed to have been spun from byssal threads.

It is of scientific interest what enables byssal threads to adhere so strongly to surfaces, for byssal threads have a powerful glue.

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