Species Account

Tellina (Moerella) pygmaea Lovén, 1846

Tellinoidea : Tellinidae

Tebble name: Tellina (Moerella) pygmaea (Lovén)
Smith & Heppell name: Moerella pygmaea (Lovén, 1846)

To size: To 9.5mm. Shell Structure: Thin, solid. Equivalve: Slightly inequivalve, RV more convex than LV. Equilateral: Inequilateral, beaks behind midline. Tumidity: Not tumid. Outline: Narrowly ovate, wedge-shaped, posterior region half the length of the anterior region. Posterior margin rounded, anterior margin broadly rounded.

Sculpture: Concentric growth lines. Margin: Smooth. Ligament: Pale brown arched band extending about half way to posterior margin. Hinge: 2 cardinals in each valve. In LV anterior bifid. In RV posterior bifid. In RV 1 posterior and 1 anterior lateral, both are prominent, in LV 1 anterior and 1 posterior lateral; both weak. Pallial Musculature: Pallial sinus very deep. It is confluent with the pallial line for much of its length. Cruciform muscle scars visible. Periostracum: Thin, satin. Colour: White/pink/orange/reddish-brown, sometimes with streaks or blotches, occasionally with a radiating streak extending from the beaks.

Distribution & Ecology

A burrower in clean sands and shell gravels. Lives from the low intertidal to the shelf edge. Widely distributed around all coasts.

Depth Range
Continental Shelf (to 200m)

Additional Information & Related Species

Juvenile Description

Many juvenile tellins have a small internal ligament in the juvenile stages, akin to that in Abra but smaller. This is particularly noticeable in T. pygmaea and small shells were described as Asbjoernsenia striata by Friele in 1886.

Key Features & Similar Species

Tellina donacina and T. pygmaea are the only subovate tellins with posterior lateral teeth. The more rounded posterior outline is typical of T. pygmaea as is the pallial sinus, which is not as deep with the point of confluence at the midline.

Related Species


Listed are literature citing Tellina (Moerella) pygmaea Lovén, 1846. Reference containing the species Type Description is highlighted.

Lovén S 1846. Index Molluscorum litora Scandinaviae occidentalia habitantium Öfversigt af Kongliga Vetenskaps Akademiens Förhandlingar. 134-160, 182-204.


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Record last modified: 22/03/2016