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"Shiy yen" or brachiopod - remedy

In the Chinese pharmacopeia, largely ignored by Europeans, you can also find the fossil brachiopods called "Shiy yen". Once crushed and cooked in a clay pot, they are supposed to treat anaemias, rheumatisms, cataracts, and digestive problems...

A question of taste

Some brachiopods are edible, but their culinary interest is negligible compared to their paleontological value. However, Japanese, Indonesian and Thai people are fond of the muscular foot of Lingula, which they collect in shallow and sometimes brackish water along the coasts of their countries. Indeed Lingula lives buried, often near to the gullies where it finds an abundant food.

A little history...

It is Fabio Colonna who illustrated into 1616 the first terebratula under the name "Concha anomya" and it is Llhwyd who created in 1696 the appellation "Terebratula" (of Latin terebro = to dig).

Georges Cuvier

The term "Brachiopoda" was used for the first time by Cuvier in 1805, but it is Dumesnil which validated the term.

Terebratula and lamps

The name "lampshell", used in the language of Shakespeare, comes from the resemblance of some species to Roman oil lamps, probably of Etruscan origin. The naturalists formerly also called the brachiopods "lampades" or "lamps"

Rhynchonella and prehistoric culture

The desire of the prehistoric man to array himself with pendants made of fossils, shells and teeth of animals, goes back to the upper Paleolithic. A necklace with Rhynchonella found in the "Reindeer Cave" in Arcy-on-Cure (Yonne), Burgundy, France, demonstrates the artistic taste of Nanderthal man.

B as Brachiopoda, M as Magic

Raymond Furon (1943) - La Paléontologie

Even in the 20th century, fossils still were considered as powerful items in southern Morocco. First Edmond Doutté, then Abel Brives tell about men who wear amulets with large Rhynchonella fossils. It was Rhynchonella multiformis a very common lower Cretaceous species. People of the Ida or Amran minorities called them "Tarzout".

Burgess shale

Who does not know about the famous Burgess Shales and their astonishing fauna: Anomalocaris, Sydneyia, Canadaspis, Aysheaia, Hallucigenia, Ottoia, Pikaia..? It was a real explosion of life in the Canadian Middle Cambrian period. Lingulella waptaensis (Walcott), a small inarticulate brachiopod, was one of the party !


It is among the Inarticulata that one finds the oldest forms of animal life, dated from the lower Cambrian. Aldanotreta, of Tommotian of Siberia, seems to be the oldest known genus.

Hysterolithes or Hysterolites, Venusstone, Motherstone...

In the Germanic countries of the 18th century, brachiopods had been regarded as a concretion formed in the uterus of the woman(Jean-Paul, 1797 - Das Kampaner Tal). In 1820 the paleontologist von Schlotheim created the Devonian genus Hysterolites.

Do you like "Brachs" ?

No, behind this word between Bach and Brahms, does not hide famous classical composer, nor the title of bestseller. It is rather about a small marine creature, called brachiopod.

In fact, Anglo-Saxon collectors are used to employ this abbreviation.

Crania ...or the damned coins

"Pfennigs of Brattenburg"

According to the legend, once upon a time, some peasants of the area of Brattenburg, in southern Sweden, discovered a treasure trove. At once found, wasted at once, these people spent without regret their fortune, whereas in the country the plague made innumerable victims. The damned coins, petrified, emblazoned with the image of a death's-head, unceasingly point out this abominable act. Actually, they are, of course, rather considered as an upper Cretaceous inarticulate brachiopod called Crania craniolaris. But what a beautiful story...!

One egg, two eggs... three brachiopods

Several giant brachiopods of a new genus, between Trimerelloides and Pentamerides, have been discovered in the Ordovician deposits of southwestern China, more exactly in the Jiangxi province. Siliceous concretions, in which shells of huge size (120mmx83mmx110mm) were found, were initially taken for dinosaur eggs, before their true nature was revealed. (Xu Guirong & Li Luazhao, 2001)"

"What a disgrace! We have to share our top billing with them now !"


Concretion : solid body made up of particles of rocks..

Paleontologist : specialist in living beings having existed during various geological times (fossils).

Yesterday and Today
Lower Jurassic
Middle Jurassic
Upper Jurassic
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Coral Rag
Upper Cretaceous