Cumberland Moccasinshell (Lea, 1834)

Scientific Name: Medionidus conradicus

Classification:  State Extirpated

Photo Credit: NCWRC




NOTE: Hover over the bold words for definitions or see the Glossary.

Isaac Lea described this species in 1834. The shell is elongate with a well-rounded anterior end and a slightly narrower and blunter posterior end. The periostracum is golden brown to yellowish-green with green rays over most of the surface. The ventral margin of the shell is relatively straight in young animals but tends to become concave with age. The posterior slope has a corrugated appearance. There are two chunky pseudocardinal teeth in the left valve and one in the right. Two slightly curved lateral teeth are found in the left valve and one in the right. Nacre color is variable, ranging from bluish to dirty white. (Parmalee and Bogan 1998).


Shell Anatomy

This species is endemic to the Cumberland and Tennessee river drainages and is no longer found within North Carolina.

Historical Distribution by County: Tennessee River Basin: Buncombe Co. (French Broad River)


Typically found in small streams (Wilson and Clark 1914, Ortmann 1918, 1924, 1925 from Parmalee and Bogan 1998) with substrates "of sand and gravel, often living in cracks in the bedrock or under flat rocks (Parmalee and Bogan 1998)."
The Cumberland moccasinshell is a long-term brooder (Ortmann 1921 as reported in Parmalee and Bogan 1998). Parmalee and Bogan note that several darters have been identified as fish hosts including fantail darter, redline darter (Zale and Neves 1982), warmouth (Stern and Felder 1978), rainbow darter and striped darter (Luo 1993).


General Life History For Mussels