The Foodie tradition dictated only the eating of wild oysters in the months with the letter "r" – from September to April – to prevent watery shellfish, or worse, a bad bout of poisoning In food. Now, a new study suggests people have been practicing this skill for at least 4,000 years.
An examination of a large shell ring off the coast of Georgia revealed that the ancient inhabitants of St. Catherines Island has limited yield during the non-summer months.
How do scientists know when islanders collect oysters? By measuring parasitic snails.
Snails known as maggots, the Boonea impressiona, are common parasites of oysters, which attach to a shell and insert a stylus to lubricate soft insides. Because the snail has a predictable 12-month life cycle, its length of death offers a reliable estimate of when the oyster host dies, allowing Florida Museum of Natural History researchers Nicole Cannarozzi and Michal Kowalewski use it as a small seasonal clock for people to collect and eat oysters in the past.
Stowaways in discarded oyster shells, snails offer new insights into an old question about dot shell rings along the coast of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi.
"People have been arguing about the purpose of these rings for a long time," said Cannarozzi, lead author of the study and manager of the Florida Museum of Environmental Archeology. "Are they daily piles of food waste? Temporary communal feeding sites? Or maybe a combination? Periodic understanding of the rings is shedding new light on their function."
Cannarozzi and Kowalewski, Thompson Chair of Invertebrate Paleontology, examined oysters and snails from a 230-foot-wide, 4,300-year-old shell ring at St. Catherines Island and compared them to live oysters and snails. They found that islanders mainly harvest oysters during late fall, winter and spring, which also suggested having people on the island tapered off during the summer.
The seasonal shell ring may be one of the earliest records of sustainable harvest, Cannarozzi said. Oysters in the Southern Hemisphere from May to October, and avoiding the collection of oysters in the summer may help replenish their numbers.
"It is important to look at how oysters have survived in their environment over time, especially since they are in decline worldwide," he said. "This type of data can give us great information about their ecology, how other organisms interact with them, the health of oyster populations and, on a larger scale, the health of coastal ecosystems. "
Cannarozzi is said to have used odostoms to measure. at what time of year the leftover harvests offer an independent way to examine ancient oyster gathering patterns. This method can complement other archaeological methods, including stable isotopon analysis and analysis of shell growth rings.
Kowalewski stated that the method could be applied to other marine invertebrate studies if the life cycle of the "timepiece" organism meets certain basic requirements.
"If you have species that last a year or less, consistent growth patterns and predictable spawning behavior, you can use them as clocks, too," he said. "We can use this kind of approach to shape the dynamics of the population or the natural history of other species, especially the extinct ones."
Cannarozzi and Kowalewski emphasized the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in addressing long-standing research questions in new ways. Their project combines paleontology, the study of fossils and other biological remains, with archeology, emphasizing human history. Cannarozzi specialists – environmental archeology – are exploring the close connection between humans and their natural resources.
"Humans are affected by the distribution, life cycle and number of organisms over time," Cannarozzi says. "Understanding how people in their environment interact and influence our care efforts so far."
Researchers published their findings in PLOS ONE .
Planted oysters can protect themselves from acidification
Nicole R. Cannarozzi et al, Seasonal oyster harvest recorded in a Late Archaic period shell ring, PLOS ONE (2019). DOI: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0224666
Just eat oysters on the moon with an 'r'? The rule of thumb is at least 4,000 years old (2019, November 20)
acquired on November 20, 2019
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, it is not
the part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.