Monday, October 29, 2007

Animal of the Week -- October 29, 2007


Bets have no doubt been placed on what this week's animal of the week will be. I hear Ladbrookes were offering 3 to 1 on the least weasel, and William Hill had stopped taking bets on the Yeti (a bear with mange? No way Jose! Sunday at 6 pm.
Those among you thinking that I might reprise the Androscoggin beast ( or vampire bat ( in honour of Hallowe'en, are sorely mistaken: I simply don't have enough weeks to repeat animals. No, this week's animal is more frightful and terrifying than the unlikely offspring of the all four. For this week's animal is the undying, undead, perhaps immortal Arctica islandica (ocean quahog clam, Icelandic cyprine).

Over 400 years ago, as Shakespeare was writing some of his finest comedies and The Merry Wives of Windsor, as British settlers were staking a claim to parts of North America, as the Dutch were routing the Spanish at the Battle of Gibraltar, as the Ming Dynasty was ruling China, as Menzies Campbell was contemplating joining the Liberal Democrats, and as Joan Rivers was having her first course of botox, a quahog was taking up residence on the north Atlantic seabed. Little did it know that having weathered four centuries of sucking the life out of sea water, this clam would be dredged up by scientists from Bangor University (oh, the shame, Welsh!) and slice apart in the name of science. Its ignominious end at the hands of marine biologists has secured a place for this mollusc in the record books as the oldest know animal.

For comparison, the oldest know human was Jeanne Calment, a French chain smoker who outlived her grandchildren and eventually pop her clogs at the ripe old age of 122 and the oldest know tortoise was Adwaita, Clive of India's tortoise, which died last year after an innings thought to be about 250 years. This quahog, the age of which was determined by counting growth increments in its shell as one might count the rings in a cut tree, knocks both into a cocked hat and surpasses other records for its own species by about 30 years. Doesn't really have much on the various pine tree species that live upwards of 10 000 years, but who gives a fig about plants?

Well done that clam!

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At 8:43 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Who'd have thought that clams shall inherit the earth?


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