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

Oval venus (Timoclea ovata)

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



Timoclea ovata has a fairly thin, sub-triangular shaped shell up to 2 cm long. The outer surface of the shell is sculptured with up to 50 radiating ridges crossed with numerous concentric grooves, giving it a rough appearance. The outer colour is variable, usually white, pale brown or light yellow, but typically with streaks or blotches of pink, brown or purple. The inner surface is white-orange with a purple tinge, and the inner margin of the shell is finely ridged (crenulate).

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Common around all British coasts but with very few records from Ireland.

Global distribution



Found in sand, muddy-sand and gravel offshore, at depths ranging from 3 m to 180 m.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Shell thin, equivalve and oval to triangular in shape.
  • Shell almost equilateral, beaks in front of the midline with a faint lunule.
  • Sculpturing of around 50 radiating ridges and many concentric grooves, with clear growth stages.
  • Colour variable, but typically with streaks and blotches of pink, brown or purple.
  • Inner shell margin crenulate for most of its length.
  • Pallial sinus small and triangular.
  • Three cardinal teeth in each valve.

Additional information

Timoclea ovata superficially resembles a genus of cockle, Parvicardium, but the hinge teeth show it to be a venus shell.

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

Search on:


  1. Allen, J.A. 1962. The fauna of the Clyde Sea area. Mollusca. Millport: Scottish Marine Biological Association.

  2. Bruce, J.R., Colman, J.S. & Jones, N.S., 1963. Marine fauna of the Isle of Man. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

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

  4. Foster-Smith, J. (ed.), 2000. The marine fauna and flora of the Cullercoats District. Marine species records for the North East Coast of England. Sunderland: Penshaw Press, for the Dove Marine Laboratory, University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

  5. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

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

  7. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  8. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line]

  9. Laverack, M.S. & Blackler, D.M., 1974. Fauna & Flora of St. Andrews Bay. Scottish Academic Press (Edinburgh & London).

  10. MBA (Marine Biological Association), 1957. Plymouth Marine Fauna. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom.

  11. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from:  Accessed 01 April 2017

  12. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin.

  13. 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:

Farrell, C. 2006. Timoclea ovata Oval venus. 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 20-08-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 26/01/2006