Reply To: Possible Blister Pearl and/or Pearl Warts from North Myrtle Beach, SC

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Tom Piscitelli

I have been looking on the internet for any information on fossil pearls in Mercenaria. I do not have access to paleontological research but it is interesting what I have found.  “To conclude, Pleistocene pearls have so far only been found in Europe and North America from three mollusk species: Modiolus modiolus, Scotland (25); Mytilus edulis, Sweden (22) and Canada; Anadara transversa, Maryland. This paper reports the first occurance of fossil pearls from the Pleistocene of Asia.  Freshwater Fossil Pearls  From The Nihewan Basin  Early Early Pleistocene  SuPing Li, Jin-Fen Li etc. 10/19/2016   PLOS 0164083.

I have not been able to find any references to any fossil pearls from a Mercenaria of any age. Nor for that matter from any Atlantic Giant Cockle. This article has an example of a shell with multiple pearl “warts” and it describes how this may have occurred. The finding of this number of shells with pearls within a very limited time period and within a limited physical range –a mile at most for the Mercenaria. The cockle was found about 3 miles from them.  I am trying to find a way to determine in they are modern or fossil. Even if modern, Mercenaria pearls are rare and I have not seen any listings for cockle pearls.  Although any mollusk can produce a pearl under the right circumstances.  I thought I would put this out there for comments and  suggestions. Thanks Tom


Here is some additional information:

The intact left valve with the pearl warts is not smooth at the umbo and as can be seen in the picture it has an interior that is pale violet or lilac in color. US Geological Survey Professional Paper 199 pp132 plate 20 describes Mercenaria carolinensis from the Waccamaw Formation Cape Fear River NC. Interestingly plate 20 #1 shows the interior left valve of M carolinensis with at least to my eyes appears to have small blister pearls or pearl “warts”. However NO MENTION is made of their presence. Since it is a black and white photo, whether color is present is unclear and not that i can tell no mention of color is made in the description. Plate 20 #2, the umbo does not appear to have any smooth areas.