Pinna nobilis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Pinna nobilis
Pinnidae - Pinna nobilis.jpg
Live specimen of Pinna nobilis, in Levanto, Liguria (Italy)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Bivalvia
Order: Pterioida
Family: Pinnidae
Genus: Pinna
Species: P. nobilis
Binomial name
Pinna nobilis
Linnaeus, 1758

Pinna gigas Chemnitz

Pinna nobilis, common name the "noble pen shell" or "fan mussel" is a species of large salt-water clam, a marine bivalve mollusc in the family Pinnidae, the pen shells. It reaches up to 120 cm of shell length.[1]


Live specimen of Pinna nobilis, in Levanto, Liguria

The bivalve shell is usually 91 cm (3 feet) long, and its shape differs depending on the region it enhabitates. Like all pen shells it is relatively fragile to pollution and shell damage. It attaches itself to rocks using a strong byssus composed of many silk-like threads which used to be made into cloth. These keratin fibres that the animal secretes by byssus gland are even 6 cm long. The inside of the shell is lined with brilliant mother-of-pearl.[2]


This species is endemic to the Mediterranean Sea, where it lives offshore down to depths ranging from 0.5 to 60 m.[3] It could be found buried beneath soft-sediment areas (fine sand, mud, often anoxic).[4]

Human relevance[edit]

This species is the origin of sea silk, which was made from the byssus of the animal.[5]

In recent years, Pinna nobilis has become threatened with extinction, due in part to fishing, incidental killing by trawling and anchoring, and the decline in seagrass fields; pollution kills eggs, larvae, and adult mussels.[6] The noble pen shell has been listed as an endangered species in the Mediterranean Sea. The European Council Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC, on conservation of natural habitats and the wild fauna and flora, proclaims that P. nobilis is strictly protected (by the Annex IV of EEC, 1992)- all forms of deliberate capture or killing of fan mussel specimens are prohibited by law.[7]

As part of the Costa Concordia disaster recovery effort ongoing in Italy (2012), a group of about 200 Pinna nobilis was manually relocated to a nearby area due to the threat posed by subsequent engineering work.[8]



  1. ^ (Zavodnik, Hrs-Brenko, & Legac, 1991)
  2. ^ Tyndale (1849), pp. 77–79.
  3. ^ (Butler, Vicente, & De Gaulejac, 1993)
  4. ^ (Centoducati et al, 2006)
  5. ^ Hill (2009), pp. 468–476.
  6. ^ Hill (2009), pp. 468–476.
  7. ^ (Centoducati et al, 2006)
  8. ^ Reuters video about the Pinna nobilis relocation

See also[edit]


  • Butler, A., Vicente, N., De Gaulejac, B. (1993). Ecology of the pteroid bivalves P. nobilis bicolor Gmelin and P. nobilis L. Marine Life, 3(1-2), 37-45.
  • Centoducati, G., Tarsitano, E., Bottalico, A., Marvulli, M., Lai, O., Crescenzo, G. (2006). Monitoring of the Endangered Pinna nobilis Linee, 1758 in the Mar Grande of Taranto (Ionian Sea, Italy). In the Environ Monit Assess (2007) 131:339-347.
  • Hill, John E. (2009) Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes during the Later Han Dynasty, 1st to 2nd centuries CE. John E. Hill. BookSurge, Charleston, South Carolina. ISBN 978-1-4392-2134-1. See Section 12 plus "Appendix B – Sea Silk".
  • Hill, John E. 2004. The Peoples of the West. A draft annotated translation of the 3rd century Weilüe – see Section 12 of the text and Appendix D.
  • Laufer, Berthold. 1915. "The Story of the Pinna and the Syrian Lamb", The Journal of American Folk-lore 28.108:103–128.
  • McKinley, Daniel L. 1988. "Pinna and Her Silken Beard: A Foray Into Historical Misappropriations". Ars Textrina: A Journal of Textiles and Costumes, Vol. Twenty-nine, June 1998, Winnipeg, Canada. pp. 9–223.
  • Maeder, Felicitas 2002. "The project Sea-silk – Rediscovering an Ancient Textile Material." Archaeological Textiles Newsletter, Number 35, Autumn 2002, pp. 8–11.
  • Maeder, Felicitas, Hänggi, Ambros and Wunderlin, Dominik, Eds. 2004. Bisso marino : Fili d’oro dal fondo del mare – Muschelseide : Goldene Fäden vom Meeresgrund. Naturhistoriches Museum and Museum der Kulturen, Basel, Switzerland. (In Italian and German).
  • Schafer, Edward H. 1967. The Vermillion Bird: T'ang Images of the South. University of California Press.
  • Turner, Ruth D. and Rosewater, Joseph 1958. "The Family Pinnidae in the Western Atlantic" Johnsonia, Vol. 3 No. 38, 28 June 1958, pp. 285–326.
  • R. Tucker Abbott & S. Peter Dance, 1982, “Compendium of seashells: a color guide to more than 4,200 of the world’s marine shells”, E.P. Dutton Inc., New York. ISBN 0-525-93269-0.
  • Tyndale (1849): The Island of Sardinia, including Pictures of the Manners and Customs of the Sardinians, . . . Three Volumes. John Warre Tyndale. London: Richard Bentley.
  • Zavodnik, D., Hrs-Brenko, M., & Legac, M. (1991). Synopsis of the fan shell P. nobilis L. in the eastern Adriatic sea. In the C. F. Boudouresque, M. Avon, & V. Gravez (Eds.), Les Especes Marines a Proteger en Mediterranee (pp. 169–178). Marseille, France: GIS Posidonie publ.

External links[edit]