Archerd Shell Collection > Shell Classes > Bivalvia > Pinnidae

Family: Pinnidae (Pen Shells)


Keen, 1958, describes the Pen Shells as being slender, fragile, and so brittle that for protection they lie buried in mud with the pointed end down. They are anchored there by a tuft of fine fibers (byssal threads) which are secreted by glands of the foot. Keen further recounts the following fascinating history:
"The fine golden-brown byssal fibers of the Mediterranean Pinna were used to weave the legendary Cloth-of-Gold, a fabric that must have rivalled our finest synthetics, for a woman's scarf of this material was said to be so flexible it could be rolled into a ball the size of a walnut. So much work was involved to harvest enough of the Pinnas and to process the fiber for weaving, however, that the cloth could be afforded only by royalty."
Class: Bivalvia
Subclass: Pteriomorpha
Order: Mytiloida
Superfamily: Pinnacea
Family: Pinnidae
Major Genera  
  • Genus: Atrina
  • Genus: Pinna
  • Genus: Streptopinna

Pinna rugosa (Sowerby, 1835)
Rugose Pen Shell


Doug Segar and Elaine Stamman Segar,

Atrina pectinata
Pen Shell

Archerd Shell Collection > Shell Classes > Bivalves > Pen Shells