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Did American Clams Sail to Europe on Viking Ships?

That American seafood favourite the soft-shell clam, provides new support for the idea that the Vikings reached America before Columbus.

Last spring, on a beach off northern Denmark, scientists found shells of Mya arenaria, carbon-dated as early as 1245.

They didn't get there by themselves. The clams are unable to attach themselves to other objects and exist in, I the free-floating larval stage for only three weeks, not long enough to be carried across the Atlantic by sluggish ocean currents. But Viking ships made brisk transatlantic voyages in as little as three weeks, says Kaj Strand Petersen of the Geological Survey of Denmark.

He believes the clams arrived in Europe with returning Vikings, either as food or as larvae that hitchhiked in the bilge water or on the decks of wooden ships before burying themselves in the sandy Danish sea bottom.

(after National Geographic, April 1993)

Mollusc and vikings


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