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Female pistolgrip from the Verdigris River
- photos by Jim Mason


Tritogonia verrucosa

a.k.a. - Buckhorn or Turkey Wing

The Pistolgrip is one of most easily recognized freshwater mussels.  The posterior ridge is very pronounced and made even more obvious by a slight constriction in the shell at the midpoint, and the posterior slope of the shell is pleated.  In males, the posterior half is not as elongated, but it is otherwise similar.  The anterior half of the shell is covered with numerous pustules.

This is the only species in the genus Tritogonia.  It may reach a length of 8 inches (20 cm.).  The periostracum is greenish to light brown, becoming darker in older individuals.  It inhabits almost any substrate except shifting sand, and may be found up to 20 feet deep.

The Pistolgrip is a tachytictic species, forming embryos in the late spring and releasing the glochidia in summer.  It uses certain species of catfish as hosts for its glochidia including flathead catfish and black and yellow bullheads.

The hinge teeth of a Pistolgrip are fairly typical for a Unionid mussel.

The pistolgrip's hinge teeth

RANGE AND STATUS IN KANSAS:  The Pistolgrip is known from the eastern third of the state, including the lower Arkansas River basin and the Smoky Hill river as far west as Salina..  For more information and a distribution map, see the species entry in the Mussel BedSTABLE

RANGE AND STATUS IN NORTH AMERICA:  The Pistolgrip ranges west to the eastern edge of the Great Plains from the lower Rio Grande valley to Minnesota.  The eastern edge of its range extends from southern Alabama to Lake Erie.  STABLE

Up Giant Floater Pistolgrip Washboard Western Fanshell White Heelsplitter

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