Mussel of the

Page last updated
29 April 2024

Mussel of the Month

The May 2024 Mussel of the Month is Margaritifera marrianae. Margaritifera is a genus of 7 species, distributed widely across the northern continents.

Margaritifera marrianae
MCZ 28491. Hunters Creek, near Evergreen, Alabama, USA (holotype).

Margaritifera marrianae is the third in a series of three freshwater mussels named by our friend, the late Richird I. Johnson, for the women in his life.

The first was Haasodonta fannyae, named for his college sweetheart in 1948. H. fannyae was Mussel of the Month almost 20 years ago in November 2004. Back then we didn’t know very much about the species or the genus — other than its interesting biogeography as a unionid on the hyriid side of Wallace’s line, and we don’t know much more now.

Utterbackia peggyae, was named for RIJ’s first wife, Marjory (Peggy), the year they married in 1965.

Our current Mussel of the Month, Margaritifera marrianae, was named for Mr. Johnson’s second wife, Marrian. This species was also described the year its namesake became Mrs. Johnson, 1983.

Some other time, we will take up the series of Mr. Johnson’s malacologist-portmanteau species: Parvaspina steinstansana, Lampsilis fullerkati (= Lampsilis radiata), and Potamilus metnecktayi, named for Carol Stein, David Stansbery, Samuel L. H. Fuller, Pieter Kat, Artie Metcalf, Raymond Neck, and Dwight Taylor.


Phylum Mollusca
Class Bivalvia
Subclass Palaeoheterodonta
Order Unionoida

Superfamily UNIONOIDEA Rafinesque, 1820

Genus Margaritifera Schumacher, 1816

Species Margaritifera marrianae R.I. Johnson, 1983

To find out more Mr. Richard I. Johnson and his contributions to malacology, check out:
  • Boss, K.J. 1998. Richard Irwin Johnson. Occasional Papers on Mollusks 5: iii-ix.
  • Kabat, A.R. 2021. Richard Irwin Johnson (1925-2020), a life well lived. Nautilus 135: 11-31.

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