Page:Natural History, Mollusca.djvu/243

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231
OYSTERS AND SCALLOPS.

which characterizes all the scallops. The deep valves of this shell are much used to contain scalloped oysters, and in fishermen's huts for rude but useful lamps."[1]


Genus Ostrea.

The Oysters have a shell composed of two unequal valves, usually thick and irregular, connected by a hinge of the simplest character, without teeth. Externally the surface is rough, and composed of a great number of foliations loosely plaited, or marked with radiating furrows. The lower valve is more or less hollowed, the upper one flat.

The animal is shaped like the shell, having an open mantle with double edges, bordered by short fringes; the eyes, the tentacles, and the foot, are wanting.

We have but one British species, the Oyster, par excellence (Ostrea edulis), but the abundance and renown of this species compensate for the absence of others. The British Oysters were held in the highest estimation by the ancient Romans, who were even at the expense of bringing them to Rome for their luxurious feasts.[2] "Excellent as the oysters of Britain undoubtedly are, there are many degrees of that excellence, the animal varying much both in size and flavour, according to the nature of the coast, and the food with which the locality is furnished. The oysters on the south coast are generally very well flavoured;

  1. Forbes and Hanley, ii. 298.
  2. Juvenal, Sat. iv. 140.