Mussel of the

Page last updated
1 September 2004

Mussel of the Month

The September 2004 Mussel of the Month is Nephronaias scamnata. N. scamnata is one of two unionids found on the Caribbean island of Cuba.

Nephronaias scamnata
ANSP 232403. Rio San Vicente at La Chorrera, San Vicente, Pinar del Rio, Cuba.

Nephronaias is a poorly understood genus found in Central America and in Cuba. The general morphology of the included species — at least for those for which it it known — suggests a close affinity to Elliptio and Pleurobema, which are found further north in the United States and Canada.

Only one other freshwater mussel is known from Cuba, and that is "Nephronaias" gundlachi. Johnson (1981) considered gundlachi to belond in the genus Villosa. While it is clear that "N." gundlachi is a lampsiline, given its sexual dimorphism and brooding anatomy, we are not certain that Villosa is the best place for it.

Both of the freshwater mussel species on Cuba appear to be endemic to that island. The only other Caribbean island with mussels is Trinidad, but its species all co-occur in nearby Venezuela.


Phylum Mollusca
Class Bivalvia
Subclass Palaeoheterodonta
Order Unionoida

Superfamily Unionoidea Rafinesque, 1820

Family Unionidae s.s.
Subfamily Ambleminae Rafinesque, 1820

Genus Nephronaias Crosse & Fischer, 1894

Species Nephronaias scamnata (Morelet, 1849)

Reference Cited:
  • Johnson, R.I. 1981. Recent and fossil Unionacea and Mutelacea (freshwater bivalves) of the Caribbean Islands. Occasional Papers on Mollusks 4(60): 269-288.
NSF icon MUSSEL icon
"Making the world a better place, one mollusk at a time."