• Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

    Mississippi

    National River & Recreation Area Minnesota

Higgin's Eye

(Lampsilis higginsii) Lea, 1857
Male and Female Higgins' Eye mussels
K.S. Cummings, Illinois Natural History Survey
Other Common Names:
Higgins’ eye pearly mussel
Habitat:
Mississippi River and some of its larger northern tributaries in gravel or sand.
Length:
Up to 4 inches (10.2 cm).
Outer Shell Color:
Yellow, yellowish-green, or brown, often with green rays (especially on young mussels).
Inner Shell Color:
White, often with cream or salmon coloring around the depression nearest the point where the two shell halves join. Iridescent coloring on one end.
Shell Thickness:
Thick. Heavy.
Shell Outline:
The entire shell outline may be round or rounded and somewhat longer than wide. The beak forms an obvious swelling on the shell surface, and turns over the point where the two shell halves join. The shell edge farthest from the beak is somewhat squared-off in females, or comes to a blunt, rounded point in males.
Shell Surface:
Outer shell surface is smooth. Entire outer surface looks swollen or bulged out.
Scientific Description:
Very heavy yellow or brown shell often with green rays, especially on juveniles. Moderately prominent beaks rounded. Female especially is very inflated. Male shell is suboval; female is postbasally rounded or truncate. Mantle flap present, heterogenous marsupium. Beak sculpture can be characteristic, but is often eroded in adults, and rarity of juveniles for comparison limits its usefulness as a distinguishing trait.
Similar Looking Mussels:
Ebonyshell, Mucket, Plain Pocketbook, Hickorynut. Males of these species and the Higgens' Eye may be inseparable.
Host Fish:
Sauger, walleye, yellow perch, and bass.
Distribution:
Historically widespread and common, but now severely restricted.
Minnesota State Listing:
Endangered.
Federal Listing:
Endangered.

Did You Know?

Headwaters of the Mississippi

The Mississippi River is approximately three feet deep at its headwaters at Lake Itasca and has an average surface speed of 1.2 miles per hour.