Freshwater Molluscan Shells / Margaritiferidae

This small family has a nearly worldwide but discontinuous distribution. Typically elongate oval with moderately to poorly developed hinge teeth. Shells may crack upon drying out.

Family Margaritiferidae, seven genera listed by Banarescu.

Genus Margaritifera, eight species;

M. margaritifera (L., 1758) Eastern Canada and New England, northern Europe, Asia.
M. falcata (Gould, 1850)
Northwestern North America.
M. dahurica (Middendorff, 1850)
Anur basin and Russian Maritime Territory.
M. middendorffi Rosen, 1926
M. sachalinensis Shadin, 1938
Sakhalin rivers.
M. hembeli (Conrad 1838)
Endemic to streams in Louisiana, USA.
M. marrianae R. I. Johnson, 1983
Alabama streams. Until recently this was considered conspecific with M. hembeli, above.
M. auricularia (Spengler, 1793)
Iberian peninsula. Recently thought to have been extinct, until a surviving population was discovered in a river in Spain.

Cumberlandia monodonta (Say, 1829) One species. Tennessee tributaries, and central United States.
Ptychorhynchus Eastern China and Yangtse.
Heudeana Eastern China and Yangtse.
Margaritanopsis Southeast Asia.
Shepmania Borneo.
Ctenodesma Borneo.


Cumberlandia monodonta
(Say, 1829)
Spectacle Case. Tennessee tributaries, and central United States unpolluted rivers.

Margaritifera falcata (Gould, 1850)
Photo courtesy Dr. D. L. Gustafson.
Populations in the upper tributaries of the
Missouri in Montana are included with the
eastern M. margaritifera by some authors,
although they share the trait of purple nacre
with M. falcata of the nearby Pacific

However, not all M. falcata have
purple nacre. In the Chehalis River,

near Seattle many are white with
blotches of salmon.

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