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California Mussels: More Information

Description: California mussels are bivalves (clam-like molluscs with two shells) that are about twice as long as wide, and nearly round in cross-section through the middle.  These mussels have a blunt, rounded point at the bottom end, and are curved and somewhat flattened at the top end.  Heavy, curved growth rings lay out from bottom to top of the shell, intersected by length-wise, radiating ridges; the hinge between the two shells is on one side, about a quarter of the way up from the bottom.  Older, larger shells are heavy and tough.  Overall, the shell is dark blue, but wears down on the raised parts (on some of the ridges and some places where the rings and ridges intersect) to a honey-tan, making the shell look vaguely plaid.  Usually, the older part of the shell, at the blunt bottom, wears down to expose light blue under the surface and sometimes even exposes the white mother-of-pearl beneath.  Occasionally, the blue-black edge of the animal can be seen between the shells.

Taxonomy:

  Kingdom Animalia  -- Animal, animals, animaux  
     Phylum Mollusca  -- molluscs, mollusks, mollusques, molusco  
        Class Bivalvia Linnaeus, 1758 -- bivalve, bivalves, bivalves, clams, mexilhão, ostra, palourdes  
           Subclass Pteriomorphia Beurlen, 1944  
              Order Mytiloida Ferussac, 1822  
                 Family Mytilidae Rafinesque, 1815  
                    Genus Mytilus Linnaeus, 1758  
                       Species Mytilus californianus Conrad, 1837 -- California mussel

Taxonomic information source: ITIS.gov