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White Heelsplitter
White Heelsplitter - all photos by Jim Mason

White Heelsplitter

Lasmigona complanata

This is a widespread species.  Its shell reaches a length of 200 mm (7 1/2 inches) in length.  It has a flattened shape, with the posterior end (right side in picture above) coming to a fairly sharp edge.  The dorsal margin of the shell extends to form a thin, prominent "wing".  (Its common name derives from the potential consequence of stepping barefoot on one buried in the stream bottom!) 

It does well in mud substrates and may be found from very shallow areas down to 20 feet deep.  It is usually not found in stream reaches with swift current.

The shell is colored dark brown or black in older specimens.  Younger ones may have a pattern of beautiful thin green rays visible against a tan background.  This shell was found in the Little Arkansas River in Wichita.  It is 125 mm (~5 inches) long.  The dorsal wing is more prominent in young shells. Young heelsplitter


beak sculpture

White Heelsplitter teeth

The beak sculpture is very pronounced.

A key characteristic of the white heelsplitter is the absence of lateral teeth, although the pseudocardinal teeth are massive. 

This is a bradytictic species, forming embryos in fall and releasing the glochidia in late winter/early spring.  It uses a wide variety of fish species as hosts for its glochidia including carp, various sunfish, longnose gar, gizzard shad, river redhorse and sauger.

RANGE AND STATUS IN KANSAS: This species is commonly found throughout the eastern half in Kansas.  Western-most records are from Wichita and Salina.  For more information and a distribution map, see the species entry in the Mussel Bed.  STABLE

RANGE IN NORTH AMERICA: Found throughout the mid- and upper Mississippi River drainage from Tennessee and northeastern Oklahoma north to Lake Erie and Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba.  STABLE

Up Giant Floater Pistolgrip Washboard Western Fanshell White Heelsplitter

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