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

A razor shell (Phaxas pellucidus)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.



A slender razor shell up to 4 cm long. The shell can be thin and brittle and coloured white or cream, sometimes with dark markings. The outermost, relatively thin layer of shell (periostracum), if present is a glossy light yellow-brown or olive layer. Where the shell is joined the margin is almost straight, whereas the other edge is curved giving the shell a pod shape. The anterior end is rounded and the posterior end slightly truncate.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Common off all British coasts

Global distribution

From Norway south to north west Africa and the Mediterranean.


Phaxas pellucidus is found in fine mixed sands offshore to depths of around 100 m.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Pod shaped razor shell up to 4cm long.
  • Dorsal margin almost straight.
  • Curved ventral margin.
  • Anterior end rounded and upturned.
  • White or cream in colour.
  • Glossy, light yellow-brown to olive periostracum.
  • Distinguished from other razor shells by the hinge teeth.

Additional information

Phaxas pellucidus can be distinguished from other razor shells by the hinge teeth.

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

Search on:


  1. Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, 2018.Ulster Museum Marine Surveys of Northern Ireland Coastal Waters. Occurrence dataset accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  2. Conchological Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 2018. Mollusc (marine) data for Great Britain and Ireland - restricted access. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  3. Conchological Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 2018. Mollusc (marine) data for Great Britain and Ireland. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-25.

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

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

  6. 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.]

  7. Merseyside BioBank., 2018. Merseyside BioBank (unverified). Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  8. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from:

  9. 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.


This review can be cited as:

Neish, A.H. 2008. Phaxas pellucidus A razor shell. 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 15-10-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 17/04/2008