Temporal range: Cretaceous - Recent
The genus Venus is named after the Roman goddess of love, Venus.
However, there are also some bivalves that are still called Venus clams because they used to be in the genus Venus, even though they are now placed in other genera: these include the species within the genus Mercenaria, and Pitar dione, the Venus shell described in sexual terms by Linnaeus.
The genus is known from the Cretaceous to the Recent periods (age range: from 136.4 to 0.0 million years ago). Fossils shells have been found all over the world. There are about 20 extinct species.
The family Veneridae
The family Veneridae contains over four hundred known species, many of which are attractive and popular with shell-collectors.
The shell of venerids varies in shape, and includes shells that are circular, triangular and rectangular. Characteristically venus clams possess a porcelain-like inner shell layer, a complex tooth structure in the hinge, well-developed escutchion and lunule and a well-developed pallial sinus.
Veneridae colonize the sandy ocean bottom, and their populations are often dense and large. The Veneroida order typically have a folded gill structure which is well developed for filtering out small food particles.
The common names of clams in this genus often include the word Venus. A few species that still have "venus" as part of their common name, but which are no longer in the genus Venus are:
- Sunray Venus, Macrocallista nimbosa (Lightfoot)
- Cross-barred Venus, Chione cancellata (Linnaeus)
- Lady-in-waiting Venus, Chione intapurpurea (Conrad)
- Imperial Venus, Chione latilirata (Conrad)
- Grey pygmy Venus, Chione grus (Holmes)
- Striped Venus clam, Chamelea gallina (Linnaeus, 1758)
- Elegant Venus clam, Pitar dione (Linnaeus, 1758)
The genus Venus contains the following extant species:
- Venus albina G. B. Sowerby II, 1853
- Venus casina Linnaeus, 1758
- Venus cassinaeformis (Yokoyama, 1926)
- Venus chevreuxi Dautzenberg, 1891
- Venus crebrisulca Lamarck, 1818
- Venus declivis G. B. Sowerby II, 1853
- Venus lyra Hanley, 1845
- Venus nux Gmelin, 1791
- Venus subrosalina Tomlin, 1923
- Venus thomassini Fischer-Piette & Vukadinovic, 1977
- Venus verdensis Dautzenberg & H. Fischer, 1906
- Venus verrucosa Linnaeus, 1758