Species Account

Ervilia castanea (Montagu, 1803)

Tellinoidea : Semelidae

Tebble name: n/a
Smith & Heppell name: Ervilia castanea (Montagu, 1803)

To size: To 13mm. Shell Structure: Thin, solid. Equivalve: Equivalve. Equilateral: Inequilateral, beaks to anterior. Tumidity: Not tumid. Outline: Ovate, posterior dorsal margin longer than anterior. Posterior margin narrowly curved, anterior margin broadly curved.

Sculpture: Fine concentric lines and very fine radial lines giving cancellate appearance. Growth stages clear. Margin: Smooth. Ligament: External tiny brown band visible, internal part on a elongate triangular chondrophore. Hinge: In both valves two cardinals and singular laterals, LV laterals are very weak. Pallial Musculature: Moderately deep, almost to midline. Confluent with pallial line for most of length. Periostracum: Glossy, beige. Colour: Deep purple-brown sometimes with radial rays.

Distribution & Ecology

An active shallow burrower in sand on wave exposed beaches. From low in the intertidal and shallow sublittoral. Very sporadic from only a few localities on SW coasts of Britain and Ireland. Recent live records are rare.

Depth Range
Continental Shelf (to 200m)

Additional Information & Related Species

Key Features & Similar Species

The tellin shape, rayed colouration and lack of a visible external ligament are characteristic. Once placed in the Mesodesmatidae it does superficially resemble Donacilla but it is the posterior that is reduced in that genus and the pallial sinus is short. Donacilla is not known from the British region.

Related Species


Listed are literature citing Ervilia castanea (Montagu, 1803). Reference containing the species Type Description is highlighted.

Montagu G 1803. Testacea Britannica, or natural history of British shells, marine, land and the fresh-water, including the most minute: systematically arranged and embellished with figures Romsey, London. 606pp, 16pls.
Morton, B 1990. The biology and functional morphology of Ervilia castanea (Bivalvia: Tellinacea) from the Azores. Acoreana; Supplement. 75-96.


  • Conchological Society of Great Britain & Ireland
    Provides resources for understanding, identifying, recording, and conserving molluscs
    Check List of European Marine Mollusca
  • MarLIN
    The Marine Life Information Network for Britain and Ireland (MarLIN) provides information for marine environmental management, protection and education. It is a centre of excellence in spatially based and time-series marine biological information and supports good stewardship in the marine environment.
  • NBN Gateway
    National Biodiversity Network's Gateway. Use it to explore UK biodiversity data, as contributed by participating data providers.
  • BivAToL
  • MarBEF
  • Malacological Society
  • Unitas Malacologica
  • Census of Marine Life
  • MarBEF
    MarBEF, a network of excellence funded by the European Union and consisting of 94 European marine institutes, is a platform to integrate and disseminate knowledge and expertise on marine biodiversity, with links to researchers, industry, stakeholders and the general public.

Record last modified: 22/03/2016