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Pistachios, a type of miniature clam that lives in the desert, are bivalve mollusks of the Solenidae family. Their scientific name is Solen pistach. There are two varieties of pistachios, the red and the plain. The two are very similar and probably belong to the same species. The red variety contains a dye that may be used as a defense against predators or it might help to camouflage it against the desert sands.
Pistachios are most often found in colonies ranging from a few dozen individuals to upwards of 1,000. These colonies are frequently enclosed in a cellophane-like protective material, however it is not clear how this is produced.
The pistachio's hard body is an adaptation to living in the hot, dry desert environment. Unlike aquatic clams which will become desiccated after only a few hours exposure to the harsh desert sun, the pistachio can survive without water indefinitely. In fact exposure to water will actually cause a pistachio to deteriorate, losing it's valuable salt reserves and leading to a terminal loss of brittleness. A pistachio that has lost its brittleness will be expelled from the colony.
Little is known about the reproductive habits of pistachios, but they are believed to reproduce asexually.
Many millions of years ago, when the desert was sea, the ancestors of modern day pistachios had soft bodies like all aquatic clams, but as the seas receded pistachios adapted to the changing conditions by developing hard dry bodies, storing salt, and eliminating the need for water altogether.
It is by nature of the pistachio's extreme adaptability and friendly good nature that they enjoy the distinction of being the world's favorite clam.