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This article is about genus of clams. For other uses, see Mercenaria (disambiguation).

LittleNeck clams USDA96c1862.jpg
Hard clams Mercenaria mercenaria
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Bivalvia
Order: Veneroida
Family: Veneridae
Genus: Mercenaria
Schumacher, 1817

See text.

Mercenaria is a genus of edible saltwater clams, marine bivalve molluscs in the family Veneridae, the Venus clams.[1]

Left valve interior of Mercenaria mercenaria

The genus Mercenaria includes the quahogs, Mercenaria mercenaria, the northern quahog or hard clam, and M. campechiensis, the southern quahog. These two species commonly hybridise where their ranges overlap. Mercenaria mercenaria is further subdivided in the marketplace and thence in the kitchen by size: the largest being the quahog or chowder clam, then smaller cherrystones, and smallest littlenecks; some markets also differentiate top necks which are intermediate in size between cherrystones and littlenecks. The smaller clams are eaten raw throughout New England, New York, and New Jersey; the larger clams are more suited for cooking.

Other species within the genus include the venus clam M. stimpsoni found in north Pacific waters.

All these species were formerly placed in the related genus Venus.


The World Register of Marine Species accepts the following extant species as valid:[2]

Fossils species[edit]

Several other species are known only from fossils. These mollusk lived from Oligocene to Quaternary (from 23.03 to 0.0 Ma). Fossil shells have been found in the sediments of Russia, Japan, Indonesia, United States and Brazil.

Fossil shell of Mercenaria permagna. Pleistocene of United States
  • † Mercenaria plena inflata Dall 1903
  • † Mercenaria plena nucea Dall 1903
  • †Mercenaria blakei Ward 1992
  • †Mercenaria campechiensis carolinensis Conrad 1875
  • †Mercenaria campechiensis rileyi Conrad 1838
  • †Mercenaria campechiensis tridacnoides Lamarck 1818
  • †Mercenaria capax Conrad 1843
  • †Mercenaria cuneata Conrad 1869
  • †Mercenaria druidi Ward 1992
  • †Mercenaria ducatelli Conrad 1838
  • †Mercenaria erecta Kellum 1926
  • †Mercenaria gardnerae Kellum 1926
  • †Mercenaria langdoni Dall 1900
  • †Mercenaria nannodes Gardner 1947
  • †Mercenaria permagna Conrad 1838
  • †Mercenaria plena Conrad 1869
  • †Mercenaria prodroma Gardner 1947
  • †Mercenaria tetrica Conrad 1838




  1. ^ ITIS
  2. ^ Mercenaria Schumacher, 1817 World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2011-09-30.
  3. ^ Paleobiology Database