Thursday, November 14, 2013

Breaking Clam

by Pa Rock
Lover of Nature

Ming, an elderly clam who lived deep in the Atlantic Ocean off of the coast of Iceland, was hauled up in a fisherman's net in 2006.    Scientists knew by her size that the old girl had some age on her, and they decided to crack her open to determine her exact age - a procedure that proved to be fatal - for Ming.

Scientists counted the rings inside of Ming's shell (a method thought to be more reliable than counting the rings on the outside of the shell) and came up with a total of four-hundred and six.  Then one of the scientists wanted to check that result by using the far more reliable method of carbon-dating.  The broke off a piece of Ming's centuries-old home and tossed it in the furnace.  The results indicated that the she  was a sprightly five-hundred and seven at the time of her murder.  They calculated the year of Ming's birth to be 1499 A.D.  (That was during the time of the Ming Dynasty in China, hence the name.)

(I've not read any news accounts that identify Ming's gender, but I did read on the Internet - so it has to be true - that hard-shelled clams often begin life as males, and then become females as they age - and few aged as long as Ming.   Chances are good, therefore, that Ming was transgendered.)

For those of us who believe in the transmigration of the soul (and who doesn't?), there is a possibility that Ming  is a mollusk reincarnation of Giovanni Cabota - an Italian explorer who was known by the English as John Cabot, the man who claimed North America for England.  Cabot died in 1499.

Certainly Ming was one of the very oldest animals (if you don't count bacteria and microscopic things that make awful pets) on Earth at the time of her death.  The oldest Galapagos tortoise died not too long ago at a little over two-hundred-and-fifty, half of Ming's age.

Ming was older than the combined ages of Nancy Reagan, Clint Eastwood, Joan Rivers, Bob Dole, and Queen Elizabeth II.  The ancient clam was as old as six Joe Arpaios and one angst-ridden high school sophomore!  She had some serious years on her!

Ming was at home beneath the sea happily doing clam things during the time of Copernicus.   She was sixty-five (the age I am now) when Galileo and Shakespeare were born, and nearly a century-and-a-half old when Sir Isaac Newton fell from his mother's womb.  At the time of Ming's birth, Christopher Columbus had only completed three of his four voyages, Ferdinand and Isabella were still on the thrones of Spain, and Henry VII was King of England.  Ming lived through a lot of history - from a time when the sun was thought by many to orbit the Earth, to a time when men walked on the moon.

And now Ming is dead.  She died for science, really bad science in my opinion.  As of now no one is claiming that the scientists intentionally killed Ming, but people of science should have known that prying her shell apart would be the clam equivalent of massive head trauma.  It would be like splitting great-grandma's skull open to have a look around.    If the killing of Ming wasn't murder, it was at least bivalve mollusk manslaughter.

It's outrageous enough to drive a grown man vegan!

Rest in peace, Ming.

1 comment:

Don said...

No chance a clam-ectomy might have saved the old girl?