I’m puzzling over this shell at the moment. If I recall correctly, it is a live specimen that rolled up the beach with the tide a bit north of Cairns itself, at Yawarra Beach. It looked fairly ordinary and plain until I turned it round to view the edge and saw beautiful delicate growth rings and lovely purple tinged beaks or umbones. I think it is a Mactra. Possibly Mactra dissimilis Reeve.
This group of shells is fairly large with triangular shells; and the animals live in sand. M. dissimilis is the most common species of this family in northern Queensland. It has a sculpture of concentric growth rings but overall is generally smooth in appearance. It is white and tinged with purple and is about 50 mm long. It is found from the Northern Territory to northern New South Wales.
Jansen, P. (1996) Common Seashells of Coastal Northern Queensland, privately published in Townsville, Australia, ISBN 0 646 29824 0.
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