Imperial Venus Shell

Imperial Venus
Lirophora varicosa (G.B. Sowerby II, 1853)
Family Veneridae
 

The Imperial Venus clam shell is found on S. Hutchison Island beaches but it is not frequently found and I have only abnout 70 versions in my collection. I average one or two imperial Venus shells per collecting trip. The deeply ridged Imperial Venus shells are reach a size of about 1 1/2 inches.



Various Imperial Venus Shells from my collection (S. Hutchinson Island) December 2020

Colors range from cream white, rose, light brown and some are dark grey almost black. Some of the creme colored and tan colored shells have brown lines extending from the umbro similar toe the cross-hatch Venus shells.

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Bailey-Matthews:

Shell size to 35 mm; shell very thick, solid, with 5-9 concentric ribs rounded or slightly flattened in cross-section. Shell triangular, with postero-dorsal margin straight. Color cream, with rose or light-brown mottlings. Species lives in deeper water in the Gulf of Mexico and in shallower areas in the Gulf and the Caribbean; it is very rare on the beaches of SW Florida. The left valve illustrated was found by Kimberly Nealon on Captiva, on Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014; its presence on the beach most likely resulted from the late-2013 beach renourishment project. The picture on the bottom is an inverted image of the same left valve as in the other view. This is Lirophora latilirata (Conrad, 1841) of other authors. This latter taxon, however, is strictly a Miocene fossil species.


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Imperial Venus:
Thick and Ridged
By Patricia B. Mitchell.

The surface of this shell looks like it has been contour-plowed, with deep furrows between its 5-8 broad, concentric ribs. The ribs do not narrow markedly as they near the margins of the shell. The bivalve, a hard-shelled clam, may reach a length of 1½ inches, and is cream- to grayish-white, sometimes touched with brown. It is very sturdy and only slightly inflated. Its outline is vaguely triangular. When fresh, the shell is very glossy.

This handsome shell may be found all the way from the coast of North Carolina to Texas, and also on beaches in the West Indies. The living bivalve inhabits moderately deep water, burrowing just below the surface of sand or mud.

At one time it was called a “Broad-Ribbed Chione.”

Notes

    The specimens pictured here were found at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
    For more information on the Imperial Venus see:
        R. Tucker Abbott and Percy A. Morris, Peterson Field Guides: Shells of the Atlantic & Gulf Coasts & the West Indies.
    Classification: Family Veneridae; Superfamily Veneroidea; Order Veneroida; Subclass Heterodonta; Class Bivalvia.
    Scientific nomenclature is subject to change, due to ongoing research. The above classification corresponds to that published by the Conchologists of America, Inc.
    Digital formatting is by Jonathan Mitchell.

 


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