North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Pheasantshell (Conrad, 1834)

Scientific Name: Actinonaias pectorosa

Classification:  State Extirpated

Photo Credit: NCWRC




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

The pheasantshell is a large, thick-shelled mussel. The shell is inflated with the umbos rising slightly above the hinge line. Shell shape is roughly elliptical with a straight ventral margin in both sexes. There is slight sexual dimorphism. The posterior margin of the female is somewhat rounder than that of the male. The periostracum is golden brown with broken green rays; older individuals may become brown or black. The nacre may be bluish to creamy or silvery white with iridescence along the margins. (Parmalee and Bogan 1998).


Shell Anatomy

This species is found in the Tennessee and Cumberland river basins (Parmalee and Bogan 1998). It is no longer found in North Carolina.

Historical Distribution by County: Watauga Co. (Watauga River)


The pheasantshell is found in riffles of sand and gravel in fast current (Parmalee and Bogan 1998).

This species is bradytictic (Ortmann 1921, as reported in Parmalee and Bogan 1998). Little else is known of the reproductive biology of this species.


General Life History For Mussels