A lesson we can learn from oysters is that even though they have no heart to feel and no brain to reason, many of their species build massive reef communities which provide protection for one another; and not only for their own kind, but for many other ocean organisms. Very fittingly, they’ve been referred to as the “unshellfish”.
Exogyra is a large extinct oyster species that lived in the soft sediment of ancient shallow marine waters. It possessed a thick shell with a distinct pattern of ribbing and pitting representing growth lines. Many of its kind thrived during the Upper Cretaceous Period around 65 to 100 million years ago. Their shells opened using a strong abductor muscle to expose a foot which pushed it along and a siphon to filter food and take in oxygen from the ocean water. The abductor muscle scars on the valves are observable in the photo below.
Oysters and Love
In Greek mythology, the Greek Goddess of Love “Aphrodite” was said to have sprang up out of the ocean on an oyster shell. The term “Aphrodisiac”, meaning to heighten love, has been related to oysters ever since. Also, the charismatic Casanova was known to have eaten twelve oysters a day, believing it would enrich his love life.
Scientific Name: Exogyra, ponderosa
Common Name: Oyster
Phylum: Mollusk (Large group of marine and fresh water invertebrates having soft bodies enclosed in a shell.)
Class: Pelecypod or Bivalve (Means hinged shell)
Order: Ostreoida (Means true oyster with irregular shell and adductor muscle; pearl oysters are not true oysters.)
Family: Gryphaeidae (Includes honeycomb oyster or foam oyster characterized under magnification with distinct shell structure.)
Genus: Exogyra (Extinct group of large, shallow-marine oysters possessing thick shells with distinctive spiraled peaks and ribbing on upper valves; lower valves were smaller and flattened.)
The Exogyra in my collection is a beautiful specimen that is quite heavy from being fossilized into solid stone. In the two photos above of its underside, you can clearly see how the valves fit together and how the lower valve is much smaller and flatter than the convex upper valve.
Today, the small oyster fossils shown above and below are found in abundance within shell-banks along North American coast lines. In their lifetime, they likely washed ashore during storms and were deposited on the beaches. Eventually, layers of sand and sediment buried them deep down cutting off oxygen and millions of year later, silica and other minerals permeated the shells and they fossilized.
Oysters For Food
Oysters have been a part of the human diet since Greek and Roman times. Today, two-billion pounds are eaten every year around the world. Oysters are prepared in a variety of ways, but raw on the half-shell is the most nutritious. Besides being an excellent source of protein, oysters contain rich sources of B vitamins, and scarce minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, selenium and magnesium.
Hand Crafted Oyster Jewelry
Only one in 10,000 oysters produce a pearl, so human intervention has found a way to culture them artificially, but it still takes about six years for the oyster to complete the process. Many artists also craft beautiful jewelry using the shells of various oysters.
Disclaimer: Room for error as I am about 90% certain on the identities of the small oyster shells.
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