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Guides > The Joseph Britton Freshwater Mussel Collection User Guide > Physical Features of Freshwater Mussels

Physical Features of Freshwater Mussels

This section provides examples of the physical features of mussel shells that are described in the specimen records. The physical description of each specimen in the collection includes information about the Number of Valves, Shell Shape, Shell Thickness, Beak Sculpturing, Internal and External Coloring, External Sculpturing, Shell Length, and Shell Condition. To provide context for these concepts the following illustrations are provided with links to collection objects.

Exterior Shell Features

Exterior mussel shell features

Interior Shell Features

Interior mussel shell features

The Great Plains Nature Center presents an explanation of these and other physical features. Visit their Anatomy of Unionid Mussels page.

Physical Features in the Joseph Britton Mussel Collection

The following section illustrates some of the physical attributes described for specimens in the collection. Included are the values used in the collection to describe the Shell Shape, Internal Coloring, and External Coloring. These values are linked to specimens in the collection that exhibit these attributes.

Shell Shape

Elliptical
Elliptical

Oval
Oval

Quadrate
Quadrate

Rhomboidal
Rhomboidal

Round
Round

Triangular
Triangular

Exterior Color

Reddish-Brown
Reddish-Brown

Black
Black

Dark Brown
Dark Brown

Tan
Tan

Brown
Brown

Olive
Olive

Green
green

Off-White
Off-White

Orange
Orange

Interior Color

Bluish-White
Bluish-White

Purplish-White
Purplish-White

Purple
Purple

Pink
Pink

White
White

Salmon
Salmon

Blue
Blue

Yellow
Yellow