Mussel of the

Page last updated
30 July 2023

Mussel of the Month

The August 2023 Mussel of the Month is Nitia acuminata. Nitia is a genus of five species found in West Africa to East Africa, as well as the Nile Basin.

ANSP_348830. Lake Albert, Butiaba, Uganda.

Nitia teretiuscula was Mussel of the Month in August of 2014, and back then we didn’t really have much to say about it. The primary claim-to-fame for Nitia then was that it could be recognized in the fossil record and used to calibrate a phylogeny of African unionids (Graf et al., 2014). The genus, as traditionally recognized, is conchologically distinctive in Africa for its small, elongate shells (Daget, 1998). However, Mandahl-Barth (1988) classified the species of Nitia as Coelatura.

Nine years later, there isn’t much more to add to the discussion of Nitia. Ortiz-Sepulveda et al. (2020) published a phylogeny of African unionids that included three species of Nitia — including Mussel of the Month Nitia acuminata from the Great Lakes region of the upper Nile. That study confirmed the previously only-suspected monophyly of Nitia.

African freshwater mussels are only just beginning to figure into the new generation of molecular phylogenetic analyses. We would not be the slightest bit surprised if more sampling revealed additional species.


Phylum Mollusca
Class Bivalvia
Subclass Palaeoheterodonta
Order Unionoida

Superfamily UNIONOIDEA Rafinesque, 1820
Family UNIONIDAE s.s.
Subfamily PARREYSIINAE Henderson, 1935
Tribe COELATURINI Modell, 1942

Genus Nitia Pallary, 1924

Species Nitia acuminata (H. Adams, 1866)

To find out more about the phylogenetics and classification of Nitia and and other African genera, check out:

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