Species Account

Macoma balthica (Linnaeus, 1758)

Tellinoidea : Tellinidae

Tebble name: Macoma balthica (Linnaeus)
Smith & Heppell name: Macoma balthica (L., 1758)

To size: To 28mm. Shell Structure: Solid. Equivalve: Almost equivalve. Equilateral: Inequilateral, beaks central. Tumidity: Can be tumid. Outline: Ovate-trigonal. anterior dorsal margin short, broadly rounded, posterior dorsal margin almost straight to wedge-shaped, almost beak-like posterior margin. Posterior slightly bending to the right. Contour: Small posterior gape.

Sculpture: Fine concentric lines and growth lines visible. Margin: Smooth. Ligament: Dark brown band extending one third of the way to posterior margin. Hinge: Two cardinals in each valve, in RV posterior bifid, in LV anterior bifid. No laterals. Pallial Musculature: Deep pallial sinus, confluent with pallial line. Shape of sinus can vary. Cruciform scars sometimes visible. Periostracum: Thin, beige or pale grey. Colour: White, some with deep dusky pink or orange internally which is visible externally on the umbonal region.

Distribution & Ecology

A burrower in muddy sands, common in estuaries and sheltered bays. Mostly intertidal on all coasts.

Depth Range

Additional Information & Related Species

Key Features & Similar Species

The somewhat inflated, solid, shell and subtrigonal outline make this species distinctive from all other tellins. The lack of lateral teeth is common to all Macoma species but the other species included here are thinner shelled with narrower outlines and are not recorded living in British waters.

Related Species


Listed are literature citing Macoma balthica (Linnaeus, 1758). Reference containing the species Type Description is highlighted.

Linnaeus C 1758. Systema Naturae. Editio decima. 1. Regnum Animale Holmiae, Laurentii Salvii. 824pp.
Väinölä R, & Varvio SL 1989. Biosystematics of Macoma balthica in northwestern Europe In: Reproduction, Genetics and Distributions of Marine Organisms. (eds Ryland JS, Tyler PA). Olsen and Olsen, Fredensborg, Denmark.. 309-316.
Väinölä, R 2003. Repeated trans-Arctic invasions in littoral bivalves: molecular zoogeography of the Macoma balthica complex. Marine Biology. 143: 935-946.


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Record last modified: 11/04/2016