Pink Heelsplitter

(Potamilus alatus) Say, 1817
A Pink Heelsplitter mussel

K.S. Cummings, Illinois Natural History Survey

Other Common Names:
Purple heelsplitter; Pancake; Hatchet-back.
Medium to large rivers in mud or mixed mud, sand, and gravel.
Up to 8 inches (20.3 cm).
Outer Shell Color:
Dark green to dark brown. May be black in older mussels.
Inner Shell Color:
Purple or pink.
Shell Thickness:
Thin in young mussels. Moderately thick in adults.
Shell Outline:
The most obvious feature of the shell outline is a single, triangle-shaped, flat extension that resembles a wing. It runs along the long edge of the shell (nearest the point where the two shell halves join). The rest of the shell outline (without the wing) is oval or somewhat rectangular. The shell edge directly opposite of the wing is straight.
Shell Surface:
The outer shell surface is smooth and rather flat.
Scientific Description:
Compressed brown or black shell. Juvenile shell sometimes green. Female shell less compressed. Highly developed posterior ala, without sculpture. Heterogenous.
Similar Looking Mussels:
Host Fish:
Freshwater drum.
Widespread and relatively common.
Minnesota State Listing:
Federal Listing:

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