Humans drove evolution in conch

I have been lucky to explore many Caribbean fossil and modern reefs over the last 14 years or so. One of the things that has always struck me was just how BIG the conch were in ancient reefs compared to those of the modern day. Bringing in archeologist Thomas Wake gave us a unique historical perspective with conch he had dug out of 1500 year old middens. I was astounded to find that the edible West Indian Fighting Conch (Strombus pugilis) had declined in size so much that harvesters today receive a whopping 66 percent less meat per conch then the earliest harvesters. Tom wasn’t best pleased with the result given that it was one of his favourite dishes!

The paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society is the outcome of these observations and the collaboration with Tom and Green Bay University student Marian Lynne-Shaffer . I will leave it to Elizabeth Preston, a science blogger, who wrote the study up with a very nice piece here.

Click on the picture to download the paper…