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Trichomusculus barbatus (Family Mytilidae)

Hairy Three-area Mussel



The Hairy Three-area Mussel's range extends from New South Wales, around the southern Australian shoreline to Western Australia. (NSW, VIC, SA, TAS, WA)


The Hairy Three-area Mussel is a small, distinctively oblong-oval shaped mussel with three distinct areas of the shell. It grows to a length of 10-12 mm. It has a swollen, fragile, horny shell, with its umbo (knob or protuberance) at the anterior (front) end. Both the anterior (front) and posterior (hind end) of the shell are marked with fine radial ribs. The central area is smooth, except for very fine growth lines. A shiny epidermis skin that is called the periostracum covers the shell. This periostracum covering extends into long, distinctive, branched, fibrous bristles near the shell opening.

The shell of the Hairy Three-area Mussel is coloured greenish yellow or horn coloured, with a darker periostracum. Inside the bivalve is white, almost iridescent.

Ecology/Way of Life:

Filter Feeder Uncommon.

It occurs at low tide levels and below in areas under stones where sediment has accumulated, or in gutters where there is a sandy mud. The Hairy Three-area Mussel embeds itself on a sandy mud bottom.

Preferred Image

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

Unusually, this species is not mentioned in Shepherd and Thomas (1989), nor is it in Edgar (1997). In "Coastal Invertebrates of Victoria" (1984) it is described as being uncommon. This may mean that this species has a restricted distribution to some localities and may be uncommon to unknown in some southern state shores. Therefore, it may be a species under threat.

Further Reading:

Davey, K. (1998). A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p. 124, New Holland Press.

Edgar, G.J. (1997). Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed. (Trichomusculus barbatus is not mentioned in this book, which is surprising).

Macpherson, J.H. and Gabriel, C.J. (1962). Marine Molluscs of Victoria. p. 293, Melbourne Univ. Press.

Marine Research Group of Victoria. (1984). Coastal Invertebrates of Victoria: an atlas of selected species. p. 84, Museum of Victoria.

Shepherd, S.A. and Thomas, I.M. (1989). Marine Invertebrates of Southern Australia. pt. II. South Aust. Govt. Press. (Trichomusculus barbatus is not mentioned in this book which is surprising).


Text, map and photograph by Keith Davey.

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Images and Multi-media:  
Attached Image  
image/jpeg 11566 bytes Hairy Three-area Mussel
Distribution Map  
image/gif 1014 bytes Distribution of Hairy Three-area Mussel

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