Species Account

Macoma calcarea (Gmelin, 1791)

Tellinoidea : Tellinidae

Tebble name: n/a
Smith & Heppell name: Macoma calcarea (Gmelin, 1791)

To size: To 45mm. Shell Structure: Thick, calcareous, brittle. Equivalve: Inequivalve: LV slightly larger than RV. Equilateral: Inequilateral. Beaks to posterior. Tumidity: Not tumid. Outline: Sub-ovate to wedge-shaped, flexed to the right. Anterior dorsal margin broadly curved, posterior margin shorter and almost straight. Contour: Slight anterior and posterior gape.

Sculpture: Unevenly spaced concentric ridges. Margin: Smooth. Ligament: Mid-brown arched band extending half the length of the posterior dorsal margin. Hinge: Two cardinals in each valve, in RV posterior bifid, in LV anterior bifid. No laterals. Pallial Musculature: Pallial sinus deeper in LV than RV and tongue-shaped rather than mitten-shaped as in RV. Cruciform scars barely visible. Periostracum: Mid-brown and flaky. Colour: creamy white.

Distribution & Ecology

A burrower in muddy sands, offshore. Subfossil in North Sea and off northern Scotland. Living in Norway, Iceland and circum-Arctic

Depth Range
Continental Shelf (to 200m)

Additional Information & Related Species

Key Features & Similar Species

More tellinid in shape than M. balthica with a chalky shell and irregular co-marginal ridged sculpture. Separation of sub-arctic and arctic Macoma is problematic but none have been found living in British waters.
M. calcarea, subovate, posterior subacute
M. torelli, trigonal
M. moesta, subovate, posterior subtruncate, compressed
M. loveni, subovate, posterior subtruncate, inflated

Related Species


Listed are literature citing Macoma calcarea (Gmelin, 1791). Reference containing the species Type Description is highlighted.

Gmelin J F 1791. Carli Linnaei systema Naturae per regna tria naturae. Editio decimatertia, aucta, reformata, Vermes Testacea 1 (6). Lipsiae. 3021-3910.


  • 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.

Image Gallery

Record last modified: 22/03/2016