Saturday, May 30, 2009

Barnacle geese

Sometimes one post leads naturally to the next....The second photo in my Cabinet yesterday was a limpet, so afterward I looked it up to find out the difference between a limpet and a barnacle. (A limpet is a gastropod, or snail, and a barnacle is an arthropod, a crustacean related to the crab - the colorful photo above shows them competing for space in the intercoastal zone off Cornwall, England). Then I remembered the belief that geese hatched from barnacles! From the 11th to the 17th c., legend had it that the barnacle goose developed on trees or driftwood and fell directly into the water. The confusion arose because Europeans did not see the geese breed and hatch, and didn't realize they migrated north to do so. The idea was further strengthened by the resemblance of the goose barnacle to a goose's neck. So which was named first, the goose barnacle or the barnacle goose? The barnacle goose, but some claim that the word barnacle came from the Celtic word báirneach, which meant limpet!

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