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Friday, 12th December 2003
Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

inside of shelltop of shellThis Common Mussel, Mytilus edulis, shell has silvery blue-grey mother-of-pearl on the inside surface (left) and a pattern of rays on the upper surface (right).
side view of shellringsI picked it up on South Bay, Scarborough a few weeks ago. It appears to have four growth rings; perhaps this shows that it was four years old?

Mussel Murder?

growth ringsinside the shellbroken edge The shell has two fragments broken from the rim. This might be where a predator - for instance an oystercatcher - has pecked at the closed shell to get at the creature inside. These marks are diagonally opposite the hinge of the shell which is where you'd expect a bird to try and prise it open.


mother-of-pearl interiorcommon musselI'd intended to do a watercolour to show you mother-of-pearl interior of the shell but didn't get around to it, so instead here's a scan to show colour.

Mussels grow, often in extensive beds, anchored to rocks and stones by threads of byssus, a substance they secrete as a viscous fluid which hardens on contact with water. next page

Related Links

The Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis) body construction, life cycle and ecology.

shell pixieMurasakiigai (that's Japanese, above, for Common Mussel) a Japenese/English description of the mussel on the Bisyogai Micro Shells site. I can't follow the Japanese but apparently this little figure, which appears to be constructed of shells, can be purchased at the Bisyogai shop - you have been warned!

Hope there are no conservation issues associated with the shells offered for sale on this site, I'm not qualified to comment on that.

Richard Bell

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