Sunday, 9 August 2009

Trivial Pursuit

When I read Rambling Rob's post about a tiny parasitic wasp, I was tickled by its brilliant name - Gasteruption jaculator. I've been meaning to pick up this theme of wacky names for a while, offering a fish with the joyous scientific name of Boops boops. I never did get round to it but while searching among the tiny specks of coal and other minute pebbles on the strand line of Lindisfarne a couple of days ago, a small mollusc, rejoicing in the name of Trivia, jogged my memory.

The beach here is so vast and so flat that tiny stuff you wouldn't normally find is gently filtered out and delicately placed for you to discover on the upper shore. The cowrie shell in the picture below is about 8mm long and not easy to spot at first.

Once you get your eye in though, the trivial pursuit becomes completely addictive as the urge to find just one more is irresistible.

There are actually two species of cowrie to be found on our shores. This one is Trivia arctica, the other being Trivia monacha - the European Cowrie (which has two or three dark spots on the back of the shell). They are both tiny - compared to the 4 inch tropical tiger cowrie shell that my grandad used to have when I was a kid - but no less beautiful for that.

Other interesting finds amongst the cowries included the shell (or test) of the tiny pea urchin.

The largest one we found was only about 5 millimetres across but nevertheless the tiny double rows of tube-feet holes clearly showed the 5-star radial pattern indicative of its relationship to the starfish.

1 comment:

  1. Not that I wish to cause a family feud or anything, but I think Janet still has that shell....