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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Type locality: Russian Bodegas...or, History in a clam shell

Is anybody else still amazed by the wonders of the Internet?  Today I was thinking that it would be fun to post some information about species that include "bodega" in their scientific names.  One example is a clam called the Bodega Tellin (Tellina bodegensis).  Here is a photo of it from Salmon Creek Beach taken on 21 February 2012, and a scan of another specimen.  Note the elongate shape and the narrow concentric striations.

I wanted to check on the origin of the name.  Where did "bodegensis" come from?

Through a book, I found that the Bodega Tellin was described by R.B. Hinds in 1845 in a report called The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Sulphur, Under the Command of Sir Edward Belcher, R.N., C.B., F.R.G.S., etc. During the Years 1836–1842.

I searched the Internet for the title of this report and was amazed to find a full electronic version.  It was easy to locate the description of Tellina bodegensis along with the plate containing an illustration (see below).  

 Tellina bodegensis is in the upper left corner.

It was very interesting to read the location for the collection (perhaps the type locality) listed as "Russian Bodegas".  The Russians didn't leave the Bodega Bay/Fort Ross area until 1841, and it's thought that they had a small settlement on the southern end of Bodega Head (near Campbell Cove).  It seems as though Richard Brinsley Hinds named the Bodega Tellin after collecting it at a depth of 7 fathoms (42 feet) on a sandy bottom near Bodega Head. [The name Bodega began to be associated with this area in 1775 when charted by the Spanish naval officer Bodega y Quadra.]

Fascinating to think about Hinds viewing Salmon Creek Beach or other nearby sites and describing a local clam for the very first time!

Salmon Creek Beach in the fog on 21 February 2012.

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