Monday, October 29, 2007

They whacked the bearded clam

As part of a European Union sponsored programme called Millennium, which is seeking to understand climate change over the past 1000 years, researchers from Bangor University in Wales have been studying mollusks pulled from the oceans floor. Earlier this year as they were examining the latest haul from the 80-metre deep waters of the north shelf of Iceland, and arguing over the best recipe for clam chowder, one researcher realized that he had just whacked the oldest clam in the world.

The man wielding the clam-chisel was Dr. Alan Wanamaker, who said, “It was a large animal so I expected it to be old, but we never expected it to be so extraordinarily old.” He then cut the clam in half. It was only after counting the clam’s growth rings (twice) that the doctor realized what he had done. This clam Methuselah had been born when Queen Elizabeth I was on the throne of England, William Shakespeare was hitting his stride as a playwright, and the King James version of the Bible hadn’t been compiled yet. As Dr. Wanamaker says, “It’s death is an unfortunate aspect of this work. For our work it’s a bonus, but it wasn’t good for this particular animal.”

Tough luck for the clam I guess but honestly it’s kind of hard to get too worked up about it. Your average clam settles down on the ocean floor somewhere and unless a cod or a seal goes all carnivore on it’s ass, it can pretty much live forever. This particular clam wasn’t aware of all the stuff that was going on during it’s long, boring life, and at the time it was “caught” (like that’s a real challenge) it wasn’t even reproducing anymore. Too old, they figure. Really, getting made into a chowder was probably a mercy.

Anyway… Humouroceros

"Artists" conception of the oldest clam in the world, with a Methuselah-like beard. Stupid artist.


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