Mussel of the

Page last updated
4 January 2014

Mussel of the Month

The January 2014 Mussel of the Month is Leguminaia wheatleyi. Leguminaia is a genus of two species endemic to the Middle East, from Syria and Turkey east to the Tigris-Euphrates.

Leguminaia wheatleyi
USNM 86354. Tigris River, near Mardin, Syria
(figured syntype Monocondyloea [sic] mardinensis Lea, 1865).

Leguminaia wheatleyi is one of the 11 freshwater mussel species known from the Middle East — otherwise known as the southwest Palearctic (Graf, 2007). The following taxa occur in the region:

  1. Anodonta pseudodopsis Locard, 1883 *
  2. Anodonta vescoiana Bourguignat, 1856 *
  3. Leguminaia saulcyi (Bourguignat, 1852) **
  4. Leguminaia wheatleyi (Lea, 1862) **
  5. Margaritifera homsensis (Lea, 1865) *
  6. Potomida littoralis (Cuvier, 1798)
  7. Pseudodontopsis euphraticus (Bourguignat, 1852) **
  8. Unio crassus Philipsson in Retzius, 1788
  9. Unio mancus Lamarck, 1819
  10. Unio terminalis Bourguignat, 1852 *
  11. Unio tigridis Bourguignat, 1852 *

* species is endemic to the Middle East
** genus is endemic to the Middle East (Graf & Cummings, 2007)

We currently know very little about the systematics and biology of the lineages endemic to the region from Turkey and Syria east to the Tigris-Euphrates in Iraq. However, these animals are the topics of ongoing research. For example, Cek & Sereflisan (2010) recently investigated the reproduction of L. wheatleyi and found it to have not only a female-skewed sex ratio but also 5% hermaphrodites.

These freshwater mussels seem to occupy a biogeographically important position between the Western Palearctic mussels of Europe and North Africa and the Introtropical taxa of Southeast Asia. We wish we had more to say. Finding new data on the Middle Eastern mussels would be a great New Year's resolution for 2014.


Phylum Mollusca
Class Bivalvia
Subclass Palaeoheterodonta
Order Unionoida

Family UNIONIDAE Rafinesque, 1820
Subfamily GONIDEINAE Ortmann, 1916

Genus Leguminaia Conrad, 1865

Species Leguminaia wheatleyi (Lea, 1862)
(+ Monocondylœa mardinensis Lea, 1865)

To find out more about Leguminaia and Middle Eastern freshwater mussels, check out:
  • Cek, S. & H. Sereflisan. 2010. The gametogenic cycle of Leguminaia whaetleyi [sic] (Lea, 1862) in Lake Golbasi, Turkey (Bivalvia: Unionidae). Journal of Experimental Zoology 315: 30-40.
  • Falkner, G. 1994. Systematik vorderorientalischer Najaden als Vorstudie zur Bearbeitung archäologischer Funde. [in] M. Kokabi & J. Wahl, eds. Beiträge zur Archäozoologie und Prähistorischen Anthropologie, 53: 135-162.
  • Graf, D.L. 2007. Palearctic freshwater mussel (Mollusca: Bivalvia: Unionoida) diversity and the Comparatory Method as a species concept. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 156: 71-88.
  • Graf, D.L. & K.S. Cummings. 2007. Review of the systematics and global diversity of freshwater mussel species (Bivalvia: Unionoida). Journal of Molluscan Studies 73: 291-314.
  • Schütt, H. 1983. Die Molluskenfauna der Süßwässer im Einzugsgebiet des Orontes unter Berücksichtigung benachbarter Flußsysteme. Archiv für Molluskenkunde 113(1/6): 17-91.
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