information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

A cockle (Parvicardium pinnulatum)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.
Only coastal and marine records shown



A small, yellowish-white, obliquely oval cockle up to 13 mm in length. It has 24-26 radiating ribs, anteriorly bearing blunt scales and posteriorly bearing small spines. In the middle region the ribs are smooth. The concentric ridges are poorly developed. The right shell valve has two anterior teeth and one posterior lateral tooth whilst the left valve has only one anterior tooth and one posterior lateral tooth. The margins of the valves have deep crenulations with grooves on the inner surface extending a long way in from the margin towards the beak. The inner surface is a glossy white.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Occurs on British and Irish coasts where suitable muddy, sand and gravel substrata are present.

Global distribution

Occurs from Iceland and the coast of Murmansk south to the Iberian Peninsula, into the Mediterranean, and along the Atlantic coast of Morocco and the Canary Islands.


Parvicardium ovale burrows in sublittoral muddy sand and gravel substrata at depths of 3 to 100 m.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Small, up to 13 mm long.
  • Between 24-26 radiating ribs.
  • Anterior ribs have scales, posterior ribs have small spines.
  • Shell yellowish-white.
  • Inner surface of shell has grooves extending some way from the margin towards the beak.

Additional information

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Listed by

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Further information sources

Search on:


  1. Fish, J.D. & Fish, S., 1996. A student's guide to the seashore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  2. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  3. Tebble, N., 1976. British Bivalve Seashells. A Handbook for Identification, 2nd ed. Edinburgh: British Museum (Natural History), Her Majesty's Stationary Office.


This review can be cited as:

Ballerstedt, S. 2005. Parvicardium pinnulatum A cockle. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 15-08-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 17/10/2005