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Malleus regulus (Forsskål, 1775)

Description: Shape very variable; elongate, irregular, straight or curved; bent towards anterior or posterior. Right valve with byssal gape. Hinge wide, with a triangular ligamental area divided by a triangular pit with semicircular chondrophore below. Interior with smooth black or brown region dorsally with white muscle scar within, limited below by a semicircular ridge; ventral region conforming to exterior shape with central longitudinal ridge. Exterior irregular, scaley to almost lamellate. Shell colour variable from purple-black to fawn.

Size: Up to 120 mm in height; in NSW, up to 40 mm.

Distribution: Indo-West Pacific. In Australia, northern Australia as far south as Ulladulla, NSW.

Habitat: In life the shell stands more or less erect, firmly attached by byssal threads to a rocky surface, which is often partially mud-covered (Yonge, 1968).

Synonymy: Iredale applied the name Parimalleus cursator Iredale, 1931 to specimens from Sydney Harbour.

Remarks: The anatomy and mode of life of this species was described by Yonge (1968). With the name of M. regulus, this is the most mis-named mollusc species that could be imagined as it can be straight, bent anteriorly or bent posteriorly, and the surface is irregularly scaley and flaking. Some variations are figured by Oliver (1992).

Fig. 1: Long Reef, Collaroy, NSW (C.077417)


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