Advertisement

Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 1–10 | Cite as

How did Mya arenaria (Mollusca; Bivalvia) repopulate European waters in mediaeval times?

  • Karel EssinkEmail author
  • Albert Peter Oost
Review

Abstract

During the Pleistocene, the coastal marine bivalve mollusc Mya arenaria became extinct in NW Europe. The species survived in Northern America. Radiocarbon dating of shells found in Denmark, The Netherlands and the southern Baltic Sea proves repopulation of NW European coasts already before Columbus’ discovery of America (1492). Petersen et al. (Nature 359: 679, 1992) hypothesised that this repopulation was facilitated by Vikings visiting Greenland and NE North America a few centuries earlier. In this paper, we discuss the feasibility of cross-Atlantic transport of Mya arenaria by ocean currents or via ‘stepping stones’, for both of which we found no supporting evidence. The long-lasting presence of Vikings in Greenland and NE America between c. 1000 and 1350 AD, provided several clues for shipping-related vectors to have assisted at the mediaeval dispersal of Mya arenaria from NE America to North Sea waters in Europe. Common elements in the genetic structure and diversity of M. arenaria in Northwest Atlantic and North Sea waters point towards the Northwest Atlantic coasts as probable area of origin and the North Sea as the first area of introduction in European waters.

Keywords

North America North Atlantic Biological introduction Biogeography Vikings 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Hereby we thank Dr. P. St-Onge (now at Kouchibouguac National Park of Canada) for his help with the interpretation of the genetic studies on populations of Mya arenaria. We also thank Dr. J. Sørensen (Kaldbak, Faroe Islands) for his effort in checking the database of the Faroese Natural History Museum,

References

  1. Adam of Bremen (1075) History of the archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen (Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum). English version by Tschan FJ, Reuter T, 2002. Columbia University Press, New York, 257 ppGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson RB (1891) America not discovered by Columbus. An historical sketch of the discovery of America by the Norsemen in the tenth century. Griggs & Company, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  3. Anonymous (2014) The Viking “Maine Penny” mystery. Thornews, 21 February 2014. https://thornews.com/2014/02/21/the-viking-maine-penny-mystery/. Accessed 20 April 2016
  4. Ansorge J (2009) Die Ausgrabungen für das Stralsunder OZEANEUM: Einblicke in den Hafen einer Hansestadt. Meer und Museum 22:11–36Google Scholar
  5. Ansorge J, Frenzel P, Thomas M (2011) Cogs, sand and beer—a palaeontological analysis of medieval ballast sand in the harbour of Wismar (Southwestern Baltic Sea Coast, Germany). In: Bork H.-R., Meller H, Gerlach R (eds) Umweltarchäologie—Naturkatastrophen und Umweltwandel im archäologischen Befund. Tagungen des Landesmuseums für Vorgeschichte Halle (Saale) 6: 161–173Google Scholar
  6. Arneborg J (2000) Greenland and Europe. In: Fitzhugh WW, Ward EI (eds) Vikings the North Atlantic Saga. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, pp 304–317Google Scholar
  7. Baeteman C (1981) De Holocene ontwikkeling van de westelijke kustvlakte (België). PhD Thesis, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 297 ppGoogle Scholar
  8. Barkham SH (1984) The Basque whaling establishments in Labrador 1536-1603. A Sum Arctic 37:515–519Google Scholar
  9. Barkham MM (1994) Book review: Proulx J-P, Basque whaling in Labrador in the 16th century (1993). Newfoundland Stud 10:260–286Google Scholar
  10. Baster J (1765) Natuurkundige uitspanningen, behelzende eenige waarnemingen, over sommige zeeplanten en zee-insecten, benevens derzelver zaadhuisjes en eijernesten. Tweede deel, vijfde stukje. J. Bosch (Haarlem): 53–110Google Scholar
  11. Behrends B, Hertweck G, Liebezeit G, Goodfriend G (2005) Earliest Holocene occurrence of the soft-shell clam, Mya arenaria, in the Greifswalder Bodden, southern Baltic. Mar Geol 216:79–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bernard FR (1979) Identification of the living Mya (Bivalvia: Myoida). Venus 38:185–204Google Scholar
  13. Bernáth B, Blahó M, Egri A, Barta A, Horváth G (2013) An alternative interpretation of the Viking sundial artefact: an instrument to determine latitude and local noon. Proc Royal Soc A 469:20130021.  https://doi.org/10.1098/rspa.2013.0021 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bernáth B, Farkas A, Száz D, Blahó M, Egri A, Barta A, Åkesson S, Horváth G (2014) How could the Viking sun compass be used with sunstones before and after sunset? Twilight board as a new interpretation of the Uunartoq artefact fragment. Proc R Soc A 470:20130787.  https://doi.org/10.1098/rspa.2013.0787 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Betts M (2011) Shell midden archaeology in port Joli, Nova Scotia: preliminary findings from the E’se’get archaeology project. Paper presented at the 44th Annual Can Archaeol Assoc Conf, HalifaxGoogle Scholar
  16. Beukema JJ, De Vlas J (1989) Tidal-current transport of thread-drifting postlarval juveniles of the bivalve Macoma Balthica from the Wadden Sea to the North Sea. Mar Ecol Progr Ser 52: 193–200Google Scholar
  17. Black DW (2011) Shell middens. The Canadian Encyclopedia. (www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca—accessed 26 October 2014)
  18. Bruntse G, Lein TE, Nielsen R (1999) Marine benthic algae and invertebrate communities from the shallow waters of the Faroe Islands. A base line study. Kaldbak Mar Biol Lab, The Faroe Islands, p 117Google Scholar
  19. Carlton JT (1999) Molluscan invasions in marine and estuarine communities. Malacologia 41:439–454Google Scholar
  20. Cross ME, Bradley CR, Cross TF, Culloty S, Lynch S, McGinnity P, O’Riordan RM, Vartia S, Prodöhl PA (2016) Genetic evidence supports recolonisation by Mya arenaria of western Europe from North America. Mar Ecol Progr Ser 549:99–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Crumlin-Pedersen O (1981) Viking shipbuilding and seamanship. In: Bekker-Nielsen H, Foote P, Olsen O (eds) Proc Eighth Viking Congr, Århus, 24–31 August 1977, pp 271–286Google Scholar
  22. Crumlin-Pedersen O (1999) Ships as indicators of trade in Northern Europe 600–1200. In: Bill J, Clausen B L (eds) Maritime topography and the medieval town. Publications from the National Museum / Studies in Archaeology and History, Vol 4. National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, pp 11–20Google Scholar
  23. Drinkwater KF et al (2003) The response of marine ecosystems to North Atlantic climate variability associated with the North Atlantic oscillation. In: Hurrell J et al (eds) The North Atlantic oscillation: climate significance and environmental impact, geophysical monograph 134. American Geophysical Union, Washington, pp 211–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dubois G (1924) Recherches sur les terrains quaternaires du Nord de la France. Mémoires de la Société Geologique du Nord, Tome 8, Lille, pp 1–370Google Scholar
  25. Ersdal G (2001) An overview of ocean currents with emphasis on currents on the Norwegian continental shelf. Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, March 2001 (preliminary version), 40 ppGoogle Scholar
  26. Erskine JS (1960) Shell-heap archaeology of southwestern Nova Scotia. Proc Nova Scotian Inst Sci 24:339–375Google Scholar
  27. Ervynck A et al (1999) Human occupation because of a regression, or the cause of a transgression? A critical review of the interaction between geological events and human occupation in the Belgian coastal plain during the first millennium AD. Probleme der Küstenforschung im südlichen Nordseegebiet 26:97–121Google Scholar
  28. Essink K (1985) On the occurrence of the American jack-knife clam Ensis directus (Conrad, 1843) (Bivalvia, Cultellidae) in the Dutch Wadden Sea. Basteria 49:73–80Google Scholar
  29. Essink K (1986) Note on the distribution of the American jack-knife clam Ensis directus (Conrad, 1843) in N.W. Europe (Bivalvia, Cultellidae). Basteria 50:33–34Google Scholar
  30. Essink K (1999) Dispersal and development of Marenzelleria spp. (Polychaeta, Spionidae) populations in NW Europe and The Netherlands. Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen 52:367–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Essink K, Oost AP, Streurman HJ, Van der Plicht J (2017). Are medieval Mya arenaria (Mollusca; Bivalvia) in The Netherlands also clams before Columbus? Netherl J Geosci 96:9–16.  https://doi.org/10.1017/njg.2016.17
  32. Foster RW (1946) The genus Mya in the western Atlantic. Johnsonia 2:20Google Scholar
  33. Gollasch S (2007) Is ballast water a major dispersal mechanism for marine organisms? In: Nentwig W (ed) Biological invasions. Ecological Studies 193. Springer, Heidelberg, pp 49–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Gollasch S, Rosenthal H (2006) The Kiel Canal: the world’s busiest man-made waterway and biological invasions. In: Gollasch S, Galil BS, Cohen AN (eds) Bridging divides: maritime canals as invasion corridors. Monographiae Biologicae Vol 83. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 5–90Google Scholar
  35. Gomoiu M-T, Alexandrov B, Shadrin N, Zaitsev Y (2002) The Black Sea—a recipient, donor and transit area for alien species. In: Leppäkoski E, Gollasch S, Olenin S (eds) Invasive aquatic species of Europe. Distribution, impacts and management. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 341–350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hammer CU, Clausen HB, Dansgaard W (1980) Greenland ice sheet evidence of post-glacial volcanism and its climatic impact. Nature 288(5788):230–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Holthe T, Bakken T, Moen TL (2000) Muslingen som kom tilbake. Spor 1:30–32Google Scholar
  38. Høpner Petersen G (1978) Life cycles and population dynamics of marine benthic bivalves from the Disko Bugt area of West Greenland. Ophelia 17:95–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Høpner Petersen G (1999) Five recent Mya species, including three new species and their fossil connections. Polar Biol 22:322–328CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Houthuys R, De Moor G, Sommé J (1993) The shaping of the French-Belgian North Sea coast throughout recent geology and history. In: Hillen R, Verhagen HJ (eds) Coastlines of the southern North Sea. American Society of Civil Engineers, New York, pp 27–40Google Scholar
  41. Ingstad AS, Ingstad HM (1986) The Norse Discovery of America. Vol. 1: Excavations at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland 1961–1968, Vol. 2: The historical background and the evidence of the Norse settlement discovered in Newfoundland. Norwegian University Press, Oslo, 995 pp Google Scholar
  42. Jenkins JT (1921) A history of the whale fisheries: from the Basque fisheries of the tenth century to the hunting of the finner whale at the present date. Witherby, London 370 pp Google Scholar
  43. Jensen AS (1900) Studies on Scandinavian Mollusks. I. Mya [Studier over nordiske Mollusker]. Scient Rep Danish Soc Natural History 52: 133–158. Can Transl Fish Aquat Sci No. 5636, 1995, 28 typescript pagesGoogle Scholar
  44. Kellogg JL (1899) Observations on the life-history of the common clam, Mya arenaria. Contrib Biol Lab U.S. Fish Comm, Woods Hole (also: Bulletin of the U.S. Fish Commission): 193–202Google Scholar
  45. Kolodny A (2012) In search of first contact. The Vikings of Vinland, the peoples of the Dawnland, and the Anglo-American anxiety of discovery. Duke University Press, Durham, pp 426Google Scholar
  46. Kraeuter JN (1974) Offshore currents, larval transport and establishment of southern populations of Littorina littorea along the U. S. Atlantic coast. Thalass Jugosl 10:159–170Google Scholar
  47. Krauss W, Fahrbach E, Aitsam A, Elken J, Koske P (1987) The North Atlantic current and its associated eddy field southeast of Flemish cap. Deep-Sea Res 34:1163–1185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kuijpers A, Abrahamsen N, Hoffman G, Hühnerbach V, Konradi P, Kunzendorg H, Mikkelsem N, Thiede J, Weinrebe W (1999) Climate change and the Viking-age fjord environment of the eastern settlement, South Greenland. Geol Greenland Surv Bull 183:61–67Google Scholar
  49. Lane DJW, Beaumont AR, Hunter JR (1985) Byssus drifting and the drifting threads of the young post-larval mussel Mytilus edulis. Mar Biol 84:301–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Lasota R, Wolowicz M (2009) Genetic diversity of Mya arenaria (L.) (Bivalvia) populations from the North Atlantic. The Malacologist 54, Molluscan Forum 2009Google Scholar
  51. Lasota R, Hummel H, Wolowicz M (2004) Genetic diversity of European populations of the invasive soft-shell clam Mya arenaria (Bivalvia). J Mar Biol Assoc UK 84:1051–1056CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Lasota R, Pierscieniak K, Garcia P, Simon-Bouhet B, Wolowicz M (2016) Large-scale mitochondrial COI gene sequence variability reflects the complex colonization history of the invasive soft-shell clam, Mya arenaria (L.) (Bivalvia). Est Coast Shelf Sci 181:256–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Laursen D (1966) The genus Mya in the Arctic region. Malacologia 3:399–418Google Scholar
  54. Luczak C, Dewarumez J-M, Essink K (1993) First record of the American jack-knife clam Ensis directus on the French coast of the North Sea. J Mar Biol Assoc UK 73:233–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Maggs CA, Castilho R et al (2008) Evaluating signatures of glacial refugia for North Atlantic marine organisms. Ecology 89:108–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Mandelkow E, Frenzel P, Lampe R, Kaute P, Schindler G (2005) Paläontologische Untersuchungen von Sedimentprofilen der archäologischen Grabung Stralsund-Mischwasserspeicher. Bodendenkmalpflege in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Jahrbuch 52:263–281Google Scholar
  57. Marcus GJ (1953) The navigation of the Norsemen. Mariner’s Mirror 39:112–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Marcus GJ (1980) The conquest of the North Atlantic. The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, p 224Google Scholar
  59. McGovern TH (2000) The demise of Norse Greenland. In: Fitzhugh WW, Ward EI (eds) Vikings the North Atlantic Saga. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, pp 327–339Google Scholar
  60. Mienis HK (2007) A record of Mya from the Yarkon River in Israel? So who actually discovered America? Zerchaeo+Malacol Group Newslet, Nr 12:1–3Google Scholar
  61. Mudie PJ, Lelièvre MA (2013) Palynological study of a Mi’kmaq shell midden, Northeast Nova Scotia, Canada. J Archaeol Sci 40:2161–2175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Nydal R (1989) A critical review of radiocarbon dating of a Norse settlement at L’Anse aux meadows, Newfoundland, Canada. Radiocarbon 31:976–985CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. O’Meara JJ (1981) The voyage of Saint Brendan: journey to the promised land. Dolmen Press, Dublin, p 94Google Scholar
  64. Ockelmann WK (1958) The zoology of East Greenland: marine lamellibranchiata. Medd om Grønland 122(4):1–256Google Scholar
  65. Olsen JL et al (2010) The phylogeographic architecture of the fucoid seaweed Ascophyllum nodosum: an intertidal ‘marine tree’ and survivor of more than one glacial–interglacial cycle. J Biogeogr 37:842–856CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Oppenheimer C (2003) Ice core and palaeoclimatic evidence for the timing and nature of the great mid-13th century volcanic eruption. Int J Climatol 23:417–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Ortega P et al (2015) A model-tested North Atlantic oscillation reconstruction for the past millennium. Nature 523:71–74.  https://doi.org/10.1038/nature14518 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Óskarsson I (1961) Note on some rare and new species of Mollusca off the coast of Iceland [Nýjungar um íslenzk lindýr]. Natturafraedingurinn 30:176–187Google Scholar
  69. Paepe R (1960) La plaine maritime entre Dunkerque et la frontiere belge. Bull Soc Belge d’Etudes Géogr 29(1):47–66Google Scholar
  70. Peel MC, Finlayson BL, McMahon TA (2007) Updated world map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 11:1633–1644CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Petersen GH (1968) Marine Lamellibranchiata. In: Spaerck R, Tuxen SL (eds) The zoology of the Faroes, vol 3, part I (1928–1971), pp 1–63Google Scholar
  72. Petersen KS, Rasmussen KL, Heinemeier J, Rudd N (1992) Clams before Columbus? Nature 359:679CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Pringle H (2012) Evidence of Viking outpost found in Canada. National Geographic News. (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/10/121019-viking-outpost-second-new-canada-science-sutherland/. Accessed 21 April 2016
  74. Ribeiro S, Moros M, Ellegaard M, Kuijpers A (2012) Climate variability in West Greenland during the past 1500 years: evidence from a high-resolution marine palynological record from Disko Bay. Boreas 41:68–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Ropars G et al (2012) A depolarizer as a possible precise sunstone for Viking navigation by polarized skylight. Proc R Soc A 468:671–684CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Saga Museum (2013) The Black Death. (http://www.sagamuseum.is/overview/the-black-death - accessed 21–04-2016)
  77. Schlesch H (1931) Kleine Mitteilungen vii. 2. Studien über Mya-Arten. Archiv für Molluskenkunde 63: 136–149. (Also published as: Studies on Mya species, Canadian Translation of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences No. 5647, Ottawa, Canada, 1995)Google Scholar
  78. Seaver KA (1996) The frozen echo: Greenland and the exploration of North America, ca. A.D. 1000–1500. Stanford University Press, Redwood City, p 27. ISBN 0-8047-3161-6
  79. Seaver KA (2010) The last Vikings. The epic story of the great Norse voyages. I.B. Tauris & Co., London, p 277Google Scholar
  80. Seaward DR (1990) Distribution of marine molluscs of north west Europe. Joint nature conservation committee, Peterborough, UK. JNCC Rep 165:114Google Scholar
  81. Severin T (1978) The Brendan voyage: a leather boat tracks the discovery of America by the Irish sailor saints. McGraw-Hill, New York, p 292Google Scholar
  82. Sigl M et al (2015) Timing and climate forcing of volcanic eruptions for the past 2,500 years. Nature 523:543–549.  https://doi.org/10.1038/nature14565 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Sigurdsson G (2000) An introduction to the Vinland sagas. In: Fitzhugh WW, Ward EI (eds) Vikings the North Atlantic Saga. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, pp 218–224Google Scholar
  84. Sneli J-A, Bloch D et al (2005) The marine mollusca of the Faroes. Annales Societatis Scientarum Faeroensis Supplementum 42:1-170. Føroya Fródskaparfelag Google Scholar
  85. St-Onge P, Sévigny J-M, Strasser C, Tremblay R (2013) Strong population differentiation of softshell clams (Mya arenaria) sampled across seven biogeographic marine ecoregions: possible selection and isolation by distance. Mar Biol 160:1065–1081CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Strasser M (1999) Mya arenaria—an ancient invader of the North Sea coast. Helgol Meeresunters 52:309–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Strasser CA, Barber PH (2009) Limited genetic variation and structure in softshell clams (Mya arenaria) across their native and introduced range. Conserv Genet 10:803–814CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Strouthes D (1996) Encyclopedia of World Cultures. http://www.encyclopedia.com. Accessed 15 October 2014
  89. Sutherland PD (2000) The Norse and native north Americans. In: Fitzhugh WW, Ward EI (eds) Vikings the North Atlantic Saga. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, pp 238–247Google Scholar
  90. Sutherland PD, Thompson PH, Hunt PA (2015) Evidence of early metalworking in Arctic Canada. Geoarchaeology 30:74–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Taylor EGR (1956) A letter dated 1577 from Mercator to John Dee. Imago Mundi 13:56–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Thiel M, Gutow L (2005) The ecology of rafting in the marine environment. II. The rafting organisms and community. Oceanogr Mar Biol Annu Rev 43:279–418Google Scholar
  93. Thorarinsdóttir GG, Gunnarsson K, Gíslason ÓS (2014) Invasive species: Case studies from Iceland. In: Fernandez L, Kaiser BA, Vestergaard N (eds) Marine invasive species in the Arctic. ThemaNord 2014:547: 83–103Google Scholar
  94. Väinölä R (2003) Repeated trans-Arctic invasions in littoral bivalves: molecular zoogeography of the Macoma balthica complex. Mar Biol 143:935–946CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Van Benthem Jutting WSS (1942) On the fossil occurrence of Mya arenaria L. in the Netherlands. Basteria 7:1–6Google Scholar
  96. Vermeij GJ (1989) Invasion and extinction: the last three million years of North Sea pelecypod history. Conserv Biol 3:274–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Vermeij GJ (1991) Anatomy of an invasion: the trans-Arctic interchange. Paleobiology 17:281–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Vermeij GJ (2005) From Europe to America: Pliocene to recent trans-Atlantic expansion of cold-water North Atlantic molluscs. Proc R Soc B 272:2545–2550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Wallace BL (2000) The Viking settlement at L’Anse aux meadows. In: Fitzhugh WW, Ward EI (eds) Vikings the North Atlantic Saga. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, pp 208–216Google Scholar
  100. Wolff WJ (2005) Non-indigenous marine and estuarine species in the Netherlands. Zool Meded Leiden 79:1–116Google Scholar
  101. Yankson K (1986) Observations on byssus systems in the spat of Cerastoderma glaucum and C. edule. J mar biol Ass UK 66:277–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. Zenetos A, Gofas S, Russo G, Templado J (2003) Molluscs, CIESM atlas of exotic species in the Mediterranean, Vol 3. CIESM Publishers, Monaco 376 pp Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sunken History FoundationEeldeThe Netherlands
  2. 2.DeltaresUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Physical GeographyUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations