Thursday, October 9, 2008

What came first - oysters or dinosaurs?

After the discussion in another blogpost I have been looking into this topic. I was sure that oysters had been around longer than dinosaurs, but that is not so! The earliest oysters (in the family Ostreinae) fossils are from Late Triassic, in a time period called Carnian (228 to 216 million years ago). The first dinosaur (Eoraptor) also showed up in the Carnian.

I found a review of a book about the oysters (see picture on left) and it seems like oysters are as hard to investigate and classify as some plants. Plus they are hard to open, of course.

I love this sentence:
"the most unifying characteristics known for oysters were their fine table quality and their aphrodisiacal value."
These are great evolutionary characters, didn't you know that? The review is from 1977 and was published in Journal of Paleontology (= journal of old, dead and stonied things). Even today scientists can't agree on how many oyster species there are, just like in the orchids, birds, and snakes. Splitter or lumper, what are you? Birdwatchers like as many species as possible so they can cross them off in their books. Oyster eaters don't care about the Latin names, only where they come from: Pemaquid, Kumamoto, Onset, Blue Point... Botanists are still fighting it out.


EH said...

Fantastic comment about the gourmet value.

So, what are you sneaking in in your scientific papers? The wellknown and much appreziated taste of Gentiana extract such as Suze?

Or perhaps the gourmet taste of chantarelles, if you publish something about Sourland Mountains and your BioBlitz?

In Sweden they are worried that giant japanese oyster are taking over growplaces for european oysters and blue clams. Why is so many invasive species Japanese?

LS said...

They aren't really japanese, they are Asian in general, but many of their Latin names are japonica, because they were described from Japan first. So their common name became 'Japanese' this-and-that. Yes, I should make a blog post about that!

Hmm, I am not sneaking anything in! If I did, I wouldn't tell anybody, it would be up for others to discover!

EH said...

If you sneak something in I don´t discover it at all, since I don´t read your papers. I wonder why, I think I should, but since I don´t know where to find them, I can´t really, can I?

Of course you shold put som nice personal comments in your papers.

LS said...

Hmm, I better send some pdfs of my papers to my sister (EH).

Also, I am going to send her some parts of the recent NY Times Magazine about food.