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Spike Mussel

Elliptio dilatata


This freshwater mussel has 3 invasive zebra mussels attached to it.


Found in the Tippecanoe River. Likes a gravel substrate in small to large streams.


Shell solid, elongate, elliptical, and compressed to moderately inflated. Anterior end rounded, posterior end rounded to slightly pointed. Dorsal margin straight to slightly curved, ventral margin straight to curved in young shells, becoming arched in older shells. Umbows low, usually not elevated above the hinge line. Beak sculpture of three or four heavy loops. Surface smooth, greenish brown with faint green rays visible on small shells, becoming dark brown to black in adults. Length to 5 inches. Pseudocardial teeth well developed; two in the left valve, one in the right. Lateral teeth short, roughened, and straight. Beak cavity very shallow. Nacre variable, most often purple, occasionally pink, salmon, or white. (Info from Field Guide to Freshwater Mussels of the Midwest by Kevin Cummings and Christine Mayer)

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AshleyL 5 years ago

That's great to know, JoAnneDavis. I'm actually planning maybe to be a mussel biologist! Thank you so much! I will definitely study your spottings.

Wildifreq 5 years ago

Thanks AshleyL, I have joined it. I'm a mussel biologist, so I can contribute some to it! :)

AshleyL 5 years ago

Great spotting, JoAnneDavis! I have a mission called "mission mussels" if you would like to join.

ceejayalyssa 8 years ago

we used to collect these in our pond :)

Spotted by

Indiana, USA

Spotted on Sep 18, 2012
Submitted on Jun 30, 2013

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