The shell of Pecten maximus is quite robust and is characterised by having "ears" of equal size on either side of the apex. The right, or lower, valve is convex and slightly overlaps the flat left, or upper, valve, which is flat. Larger specimens have an nearly circular outline and the largest may measure 21 cm in length. The "ears" are prominent and are a minimum of half the width of the shell with the byssal notch situated in the right anterior ear being slight and not serrated. The sculpture of the valves is distinctive and consists of 12 to 17 wide radiating ribs and numerous concentric lines which clearly show the scallop's growth history, while the "ears" show a few thin ribs which radiate from the beaks. The radiating ribs reach the margins of the valves and this creates a crenulated form. The left valve is normally reddish-brown while the right valve varies from white through cream to shades of pale brown contrasting with pink, red or pale yellow tints; either valve may show zigzag patterns and may also show bands and spots of red, pink or bright yellow.
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