Life Style

People are consuming oysters in months with 'r' from 4000 years

ANI | December 01, 2019 02:41 PM
Representative Image

Washington D.C [USA], Dec 01 (ANI): Tradition dictates only eating wild oysters during months containing the letter 'r' -- from September to April to keep food poisoning at bay and now a new study has suggested that the norm is being followed for at least 4,000 years.

An analysis of a large shell ring off Georgia's coast revealed that the ancient inhabitants of St. Catherines Island limited their oyster harvest to the non-summer months.

How can scientists know when islanders were collecting oysters? By measuring parasitic snails. Snails known as impressed odostomes, Boonea impressa, are common parasites of oysters, latching onto a shell and inserting a stylus to slurp the soft insides.

Because the snail has a predictable 12-month life cycle, its length at death offers a reliable estimate of when the oyster host died, allowing Florida Museum of Natural History researchers Nicole Cannarozzi and Michal Kowalewski to use it as a tiny seasonal clock for when people collected and ate oysters in the past.

Stowaways on discarded oyster shells, the snails offer new insights into an old question about the shell rings that dot the coasts of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi.

"People have been debating the purpose of these shell rings for a very long time," said Cannarozzi, the study's lead author and Florida Museum environmental archaeology collection manager.

"Were they everyday food waste heaps? Temporary communal feasting sites? Or perhaps a combination? Understanding the seasonality of the rings sheds new light on their function," added Cannarozzi in the study published in -- PLOS ONE.

Cannarozzi and Kowalewski, Thompson Chair of Invertebrate Paleontology, analysed oysters and snails from a 230-foot-wide, 4,300-year-old shell ring on St. Catherines Island and compared them with live oysters and snails.

They found that island inhabitants were primarily harvesting oysters during late fall, winter and spring, which also suggested the presence of people on the island tapered off during the summer.

The seasonality of the shell ring may be one of the earliest records of sustainable harvesting, Cannarozzi said. Oysters in the Southeast spawn from May to October and avoiding oyster collection in the summer may help replenish their numbers."It's important to look at how oysters have lived in their environment over time, especially because they are on the decline worldwide," she said.

"This type of data can give us good information about their ecology, how other organisms interact with them, the health of oyster populations and, on a grander scale, the health of coastal ecosystems," she added.

Cannarozzi said using impressed odostomes to gauge what time of year oysters were harvested offers an independent way to assess ancient patterns of oyster gathering. (ANI)

Have something to say? Post your comment
Must Read
Punjab Cabinet okays revision of river/canal water charges for non-agriculture purposes
Punjab Cabinet okays revision of river/canal water charges for non-agriculture purposes
Water supply and sanitation dept honoures 200 officials and employees for great services during Gurpurab celebrations
Water supply and sanitation dept honoures 200 officials and employees for great services during Gurpurab celebrations
Clean environment and sports are our priority: MP Chaudhary
Clean environment and sports are our priority: MP Chaudhary
 Playing D/N Test in India, a victory for world cricket: Rajeev Shukla
Playing D/N Test in India, a victory for world cricket: Rajeev Shukla
INX Media case: Court allows ED to quiz Chidambram on Nov 22-23
INX Media case: Court allows ED to quiz Chidambram on Nov 22-23
Time line to pay outstanding house tax or property tax extended by three months: Brham Mohindra
Time line to pay outstanding house tax or property tax extended by three months: Brham Mohindra
Centre's Financial Intelligence Unit extends support to Punjab Police to trace Foreign terror funding sources
Centre's Financial Intelligence Unit extends support to Punjab Police to trace Foreign terror funding sources
Bankers’ committee meet exposes Captain government’s claims over farm loan waiver: Kultar Singh Sandhwa
Bankers’ committee meet exposes Captain government’s claims over farm loan waiver: Kultar Singh Sandhwa
SC asks Army to take decision on granting permanent commission to 8 women officers
SC asks Army to take decision on granting permanent commission to 8 women officers
PM Modi condoles demise of UAE President's brother
PM Modi condoles demise of UAE President's brother
International Olympiad on Critical Life Skills on 14th & 15th December 2019
International Olympiad on Critical Life Skills on 14th & 15th December 2019
K'taka: Farmer finds unique, low-cost method to save crops from wild animals
K'taka: Farmer finds unique, low-cost method to save crops from wild animals