biology zoology insects pearl mussels

Pearl Mussels in Peril

Is there any help for pearl mussels?

We hear and read so much about plants and animal species being threatened by extinction, but not all species make headlines, like for instance the freshwater pearl mussel with the beautiful name Margaritifera margaritifera. Not only oysters and other marine molluscs produce pearls: the freshwater pearl mussel of the holarctic region on both sides of the Atlantic has for centuries yielded valuable wild pearls, too. But the times when these bog mussels were literally plastering the beds of fast flowing streams of areas poor in nutrients and calcium are nearly over – and that despite the fact that this animal can probably reach an age of 200 or even more years. —>—>


Oddballs of the Plant World

Strange, stranger, strangest

Higher plants (and I will probably restrict myself to those that have seeds and are therefore referred to as Spermatophytes) are supposed to have roots, a stem, leaves, flowers and seeds, right? Fungi (mushrooms, toadstools and the like) used to be considered odd plants, but for quite a while now have been given their own “kingdom”, namely that of “Fungi”. Since they are not “autotroph” like plants and with the help of sunlight can turn water and CO2 into sugars and starch, but like animals require food in the form of organic matter, they have more in common with the latter than with the former. Also the fact that fungal cell walls are made of chitin (a carbohydrate typical of, for example, insects and kin, but not plants) and some fungi possess the enzyme collagenase, contain melanin, or are able to produce light, demonstrates that they share more features with animals than plants. —>

“Coined Plants”

Plants on Coins

I have written about animals on coins and what we can learn from them and it therefore seems only fair to also present an item about plants on coins. After all, animal life depends on plants. So, are there any plants on coins? Of course there are and the early settlers of the North American East Coast must have been so impressed by the trees in their “New World” that they put them on their coins: pine trees on Massachusetts coins and others in the New England of the 17 th century; maple leaves on coins from Canada etc. The cedar pine trees of Lebanon are also legendary and unsurprisingly feature on some of that country’s coinage like, for instance, the 50 piastres of 1929 and the brown 10 piastres of 1972. —>