Mussel of the

Page last updated
31 May 2013

Mussel of the Month

The June 2013 Mussel of the Month is Westralunio carteri. Westralunio is a genus of three species found in Western Australia and New Guinea.

Westralunio carteri
AMS 61724. Victoria Reservoir, 12 mi E of Perth, Western Australia, Australia (type).

Westralunio carteri is endemic to southwestern Australia, and this freshwater mussel is the only species found in that area. Intestestingly, the other two species of Westralunio are far away in New Guinea.

Glochidium of Westralunio carteri. Photo by Michael Klunzinger.

The occassion for crowning Westralunio carteri as Mussel of the Month for June 2013 was inspired by the recent paper by Klunzinger et al. (2013). W. carteri, like other hyriids, has hooked-type glochidia. These marginal hooks are evident in the photo to the right.

Among freshwater mussels, there are, in fact, two different kinds of hooked-type glochidia: those of the Hyriidae and those of the unionid subfamily Unioninae. This is a case of convergent evolution, presumably for attachment to their hosts' fins rather than their gills. (Watch this space to find out more John Pfeiffer's results with a third example of this phenomenon).

But back to Westralunio...

Michael Klunzinger has moved our understanding of Westralunio carteri forward a great deal with his dissertation on the ecology, life history, and conservation status of this species. Good work, Michael!


Phylum Mollusca
Class Bivalvia
Subclass Palaeoheterodonta
Order Unionoida

Family HYRIIDAE Swainson, 1840
Subfamily VELESUNIONINAE Iredale, 1934

Genus Westralunio Iredale, 1934

Species Westralunio carteri Iredale, 1934

To find out more about Westralunio and its hooked glochidia, check out:
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