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Temporal range: Aptian[1]-Recent
Viviparus contectus met operculum2.JPG
An alive but retracted individual of Viviparus contectus, showing the operculum
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Clade: Caenogastropoda
Informal group: Architaenioglossa
Superfamily: Viviparoidea
Family: Viviparidae
J. E. Gray, 1847[2]
125–150 freshwater species

Viviparidae, sometimes known as the river snails or mystery snails, are a family of large operculate freshwater snails, aquatic gastropod mollusks.

This family is classified in the informal group Architaenioglossa according to the taxonomy of the Gastropoda by Bouchet & Rocroi, 2005.


This family occurs nearly worldwide in temperate and tropical regions, with the exception that they are absent from South America.

There are two genera of Viviparidae in Africa: Bellamya and Neothauma.[4]


The family Viviparidae contains 3 subfamilies (according to the taxonomy of the Gastropoda by Bouchet & Rocroi, 2005):

  • Viviparinae Gray, 1847 (1833) - synonyms: Paludinidae Fitzinger, 1833 (inv.); Kosoviinae Atanackovic, 1859 (n.a.)
  • Bellamyinae Rohrbach, 1937 - synonym: Amuropaludinidae Starobogatov, Prozorova, Bogatov & Sayenko, 2004 (n.a.)
  • Lioplacinae Gill, 1863 - synonym: Campelomatinae Thiele, 1929


Genera within the family Viviparidae include:

subfamily Viviparinae Gray, 1847

subfamily Bellamyinae Rohrbach, 1937

subfamily Lioplacinae Gill, 1863

subfamily ?

Genera brought into synonymy
  • Centrapala Cotton, 1935:[1] synonym of Larina A. Adams, 1855
  • Contectiana Bourguignat, 1880: synonym of Viviparus Montfort, 1810
  • Eularina Iredale, 1943: synonym of Larina A. Adams, 1855
  • subfamily † Kosoviinae Atanacković, 1959: synonym of Viviparidae Gray, 1847
  • Lecythoconcha Annandale, 1920: synonym of Cipangopaludina Hannibal, 1912
  • Metohia Popović, 1964 : (junior homonym, no replacement name available in 2014)
  • Notopalena Iredale, 1943: synonym of Notopala Cotton, 1935
  • Paludina Férussac, 1812: synonym of Viviparus Montfort, 1810
  • Siamopaludina Brandt, 1968 : synonym of Filopaludina (Siamopaludina) Brandt, 1968 represented as Filopaludina Habe, 1964
  • Vivipara : synonym of Viviparus Montfort, 1810

Life cycle[edit]

Life spans have been reported from 3 to 11 years in various species of Viviparidae.[12]


  1. ^ a b c Kear, B. P.; Hamilton-Bruce, R. J.; Smith, B. J.; Gowlett-Holmes, K. L. (2003). "Reassessment of Australia's oldest freshwater snail, Viviparus (?) albascopularis Etheridge, 1902 (Mollusca : Gastropoda : Viviparidae), from the Lower Cretaceous (Aptian, Wallumbilla Formation) of White Cliffs, New South Wales". Molluscan Research. 23 (2): 149–158. doi:10.1071/MR03003.
  2. ^ Gray J. E. (November 1847) (1833). "A list of genera of Recent Mollusca, their synonyma and types". Proceedings of the Zoological Society in London, 15: 129-182. Viviparidae at page 155.
  3. ^ Strong E. E., Gargominy O., Ponder W. F. & Bouchet P. (2008). "Global Diversity of Gastropods (Gastropoda; Mollusca) in Freshwater". Hydrobiologia 595: 149-166. hdl:10088/7390 doi:10.1007/s10750-007-9012-6.
  4. ^ a b Brown D. S. (1994). Freshwater Snails of Africa and their Medical Importance. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0-7484-0026-5.
  5. ^ Van Bocxlaer, Bert; Strong, Ellen E; Richter, Romy; Stelbrink, Björn; Rintelen, Thomas Von (14 December 2017). "Anatomical and genetic data reveal that Rivularia Heude, 1890 belongs to Viviparinae (Gastropoda: Viviparidae)". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 182 (1): 1–23. doi:10.1093/zoolinnean/zlx014. ISSN 0024-4082.
  6. ^ a b (file created 29 July 2010) FRESH WATER MOLLUSCAN SPECIES IN INDIA[permanent dead link]. 11 pp. accessed 31 July 2010.
  7. ^ a b Zhang, L. J.; Chen, S. C.; Yang, L. T.; Jin, L.; Köhler, F. (2015). "Systematic revision of the freshwater snail Nevill, 1877 (Mollusca: Viviparidae) endemic to the ancient lakes of Yunnan, China, with description of new taxa". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 174 (4): 760–800. doi:10.1111/zoj.12260.
  8. ^ Sivan, N.; Heller, J.; van Damme, D. (2006). "Fossil Viviparidae (Mollusca: Gastropoda) of the Levant". Journal of Conchology. 39 (2): 207–220.
  9. ^ River Snail (Notopala sublineata). accessed 26 September 2010
  10. ^ Du L.-N., Yang J.-X. & Chen X.-Y. (2011). "A new species of Trochotaia (Caenogastropoda: Viviparidae) from Yunnan, China". Molluscan Research 31(2): 85-89. abstract
  11. ^ a b Hamilton-Bruce R. J., Smith B. J. & Gowlett-Holmes K. L. (2002). "Descriptions of a new genus and two new species of viviparid snails (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Viviparidae) from the Early Cretaceous (middle-late Albian) Griman Creek Formation of Lightning Ridge, northern New South Wales". Records of the South Australian Museum 35': 193–203. PDF
  12. ^ Heller, J (1990). "Longevity in molluscs". Malacologia. 31 (2): 259–295.

Further reading[edit]

  • Hirano T., Saito T. & Chiba S. (2015). "Phylogeny of freshwater viviparid snails in Japan". Journal of Molluscan Studies 81(4): 435-441. doi:10.1093/mollus/eyv019.
  • Qian Z.-X., Fang Y.-F. & He J. (2014). "A conchological review of Bellamyinae (Gastropoda: Viviparidae) of China". Shell Discoveries 1(3): 3-12.

External links[edit]