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Bivalves - Molluscs

One of the largest groups of Bivalves are the Mussels. Along the southern shores of Australia, Mussels are a particularly common and distinctive component on almost every rocky shore.

Mussels are equivalve, but not symmetrical. They are angular at one end and rounded at the other. They are usually longer than wide. Mussels occur in groups and usually attach themselves to rock with byssal threads.

A Mussel's shell is covered with a thick, dark-coloured covering called a periostracum, which may be hairy.

The ligament which joins the two shell halves together is usually external and deep seated.

Two mussels from southern shores are:

Small photo of an Edible MusselEdible Mussel, Mytilus edulus planulatus


Small photo of a little Black Horse MusselLittle Black Horse Mussel, Xenostrobus pulex


Bennett, I. (1987) W.J. Dakin's classic study: Australian Seashores. Angus & Robertson, Sydney.

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. New Holland, Sydney.

Edgar, G.J. (1997) Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed Books, Kew.

Quinn, G.P., Wescott, G.C. & Synnot, R.N. (1992) Life on the Rocky Shores of South-Eastern Australia: an illustrated field guide. Victorian National Parks Association, Melbourne.

Macpherson, J.H. & Gabriel, C.J. (1962) Marine Molluscs of Victoria. Melbourne University Press & The National Museum of Victoria.


Edible Mussel
Little Black Horse Mussel
Commercial Oyster

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photo of Keith DaveyLife on Australian Seashores
by Keith Davey (C) 2000

Learning Consultant - Media
The University of Newcastle

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Scientific Consultant: Phil Colman
site created 01.01.98 : updated 01.04.2000