The species was first described in 1769 by the German zoologist Peter Simon Pallas in the Ural, Volga, and Dnieper rivers. Zebra mussels get their name from a striped pattern commonly seen on their shells, though it is not universally present. They are usually about the size of a fingernail, but can grow to a maximum length of nearly 2 in (5. 1 cm). Shells are D-shaped, and attached to the substrate with strong byssal fibers, which come out of their umbo on the dorsal (hinged) side.
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