Freshwater Molluscan Shells / Australia and New Zealand

McMichael and Hiscock (1958) recognize a total of 29 species in the Australian region, 27 of them in the family Mutelidae with eight genera grouped into four subfamilies, Lortiellinae, Velesunioninae, Hyridellinae, and Cucumerunioninae. The two remaining species in genus Haasodonta are assigned to the family Unionidae. They list three living and two fossil mutelid species for New Zealand. His classification is as follows. Numbers refer to species and additional subspecies in the genus:

Family Mutelidae:

Subfamily Velesunioninae; Velesunio (5), Microdontia (1), Alathyria (4 + 2), Westralunio (3).
Subfamily Lortiellinae; Lortiella (2).
Subfamily Hyridellinae; Hyridella (9 + 1), in four subgenera.
Subfamily Cucumerunioninae; Cucumerunio (2), Virgus (1).

Family Unionidae: subfamily Rectidentinae; Haasodonta (2).

Banarescu (1990) places all genera and species into the Family Hyriidae, with two subfamilies, Cucumerunioninae and Velesunioninae.

According to McMichael and Hiscock, the lack of thick-shelled species usable for pearl buttons in Australia has resulted in less interest being paid to these animals, and no comprehensive study by Australians was published before 1932. Freshwater mussels are common in Australian archaeological sites, and the accumulation of "middens" indicates their continued use up into European times. See for example and As in the Unionidae, reproduction is by means of a larval stage known as a glochidium that temporarily parasitizes fish.


Velesunio ambiguus
(Philippi, 1847). New South Wales.
Alathyria pertexta (Iredale,
1934). New South Wales.
Cucumerunio novaehollandae
(Gray, 1834). New South Wales.


Lortiella froggatti Iredale 1934. West Australia. Slightly reduced.


Hyridella drapeta (Iredale, 1934) New South Wales   H. drapeta, well developed hinge teeth
Hyridella australis (Lamarck, 1819). New South Wales.   H. australis, hinge teeth flattened

New Zealand

Hyridella menziesii depauperata
Hutton, 1882.
Northland, New Zealand
Hyridella menziesii acuta
Suter, 1907.
Northland, New Zealand

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