Date Mussel

Lithophaga lithophaga





Lithophaga lithophaga, commonly called Date Mussels, are distinctly elongated, ringed bivalves. With a brown-red outer shell they can be up to 12 cm long. L. lithophaga are extremely long lived, with the average life span greater than 54 years (1), though they grow quite slowly, taking 15-20 years to reach half 5-6 cm (3).  L. lithophaga burrow elliptical holes into soft calcareous rock using a mucoprotein, released from pallial glands, that binds with the calcium rock (2). Parameters like length and age vary greatly with depth, with optimal depth at 2-4 m below the surface (1). This depth protects L. lithophaga harsh wave action associated with higher depths. 


(1) Galinou-Mitsoudi, S., & Sinis, A. (1995). Age And Growth Of Lithophaga Lithophaga (Linnaeus, 1758) (Bivalvia: Mytilidae), Based On Annual Growth Lines In The Shell. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 61(4), 435-453. doi:10.1093/mollus/61.4.435

(2) Jaccarini, V., Bannister, W. H., & Micallef, H. (2009). The pallial glands and rock boring in Lithophaga lithophaga (Lamellibranchia, Mytilidae). Journal of Zoology, 154(4), 397-401. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1968.tb01672.

(3) Republic of Slovenia, Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning. (2004). Date Mussel (Lithophaga lithophaga).


  • rocky intertidal