Mussel of the

Page last updated
10 May 2015

Mussel of the Month

The May 2015 Mussel of the Month is Anemina fluminea.Anemina is a genus of five species found in eastern Asia.

Anemina fluminea
MNHN. Riviere Hoai, Ngan Houe, Chine (syntype of Anodon fluminea Heude).

We chose Anemina fluminea as the Mussel of the Month for May because it is emblematic of the challenges that still exist in freshwater mussel taxonomy and systematics*. The upshot is that we know of very little science that would allow us to answer the question, "Upon what characteristics (synapomorphies) is Anemina based?" Anemina is a hypothesis about the evolutionary relationships of the five species in the genus. What is the evidence that supports that hypothesis? The short answer: it is pretty slim.

Until only about a decade ago, there was only a single species in the genus Anemina: A. arcaeformis, the type species. Lindholm (1925) created the genus Haasiella for Anodon arcaeformis Heude 1877 because the species was reported to lack the larval thread and hooked margin found in typical anodontine glochidia. However, Haasiella was preoccupied by a genus of myriapod, so Haas (1969) provided a replacement name, the subgenus Anemina — Anodonta (Anemina) arcaeformis.**

Then, out of the blue, Prozorova et al. (2005) put four additional species in Anemina: A. euscaphys, A. globosula, A. angula, and (our Mussel of the Month) A. fluminea. This was a bit of a shift in taxonomy since these four species had previously been either synonymized with Sinanodonta woodiana, omitted, or were unknown to Haas (1969). Is it reasonable to assume that these mussels also have the larval characteristics of A. arcaeformis? If so, it is certainly worth noting that Prozorova et al. (2005) placed the type of Anemina in a different genus: Buldowskia arcaeformis.

This is where we enter the story (Graf & Cummings, 2007). In trying to sort of the global freshwater mussel species diversity, we simply followed Prozorova et al. (2005) in classifying the other four species in Anemina, and we included A. arcaeformis because the rules of nomenclature required it. If there is an Anemina, then A. arcaeformis is one. Our treatment of Anemina was subsequently applied by Bogan (2010) and then mostly copied verbatim from a previous iteration of this web site by He & Zhuang (2013).

So, this is where we are at. A. fluminea resides in Anemina because Prozorova et al. (2005) put it there. However, those authors didn't classify the type of Anemina in Anemina, so their taxonomy is suspect. One could put the blame on us for floating the current concept of Anemina, but since subsequent authors have not attributed their taxonomy to us, perhaps we can take their use of the name as confirmation rather merely following. For now, we will keep Anemina.


* And we chose this particular species of Anemina because it had a nice looking picture. Normally, we would use the type species of a particular genus(A. arcaeformis), but the picture of the type for that mussel isn't as nice as this one.

** The Soviet "Comparatory" School of Malacology split A. arcaeformis into multiple genera. Their practice of over-splitting has been discussed on this web site and in print (Graf, 2007). We regard this digression as something to be ignored rather than an interesting wrinkle in this story.


Phylum Mollusca
Class Bivalvia
Subclass Palaeoheterodonta
Order Unionoida

Family UNIONIDAE Rafinesque, 1820
Subfamily UNIONINAE s.s.
Tribe ANODONTINI Rafinesque, 1820

Genus AneminaHaas, 1969
[= Haasiella Lindholm, 1925]

Species Anemina fluminea (Heude, 1877)

To find out more about Anemina and eastern Asian mussels, check out:
  • Bogan, A.E. 2010. Mollusca-Bivalvia checklist. Freshwater Animal Biodiversity Project. “generated Thu Jun 17 22:44:53 +0200 2010 from FADA website” This checklist has since been updated.
  • 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.
  • Haas, F. 1969. Superfamilia Unionacea. Das Tierreich 88: 1-663.
  • He, J. & Z. Zhuang. 2013. The Freshwater Bivalves of China. ConchBooks, Harxheim, Germany. 198 pp.
  • Lindholm, W.A. 1925. Anodonta arcaeformis Heude im Süd-Ussuri-Gebiet. Archiv für Molluskenkunde 57: 137-139.
  • Prozorova, L.A., E.M. Sayenko, V.V. Bogatov, M. Wu & Y.-Y. Liu. 2005. [Bivalves of the Yangtze River drainage]. Byulleten' Dal'nevostochnogo Malakologicheskogo Obshchestva 9: 46-58.
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