SEA BISCUITS: DO THEY REALLY CONTAIN DOVES?
A couple of years ago I wrote a post called ECHINODERMS, DOLLAR DOVES & PETRIFIED BISCUITS. It dealt with the… fact? rumour? old wive’s tale?… that within each sand dollar test (i.e. the white skeleton) are hidden 5 ‘doves’. You can hear them rattling inside if you shake the dollar…
I investigated the theory with senior granddaughter, and we broke a sand dollar in half. And as you can see, the answer was undoubtedly yes – there were 5 tiny white doves, thus fulfilling the prediction of the famous ‘Sand Dollar’ poem that contains the lines “Now break the centre open And here you will release The five white doves awaiting To spread good will and peace”.
Five white doves (in fact, the separated parts of the creature’s feeding apparatus)
A single dove, a picture of doveliness
I never thought to extend the experiment to sea biscuits, another object prized by beachcombers. All that changed last month when I picked up a sea biscuit and found that it, too, rattled.
So I turned it over to take a closer look at the underside. And there, unmistakably, was the source of the rattle – some kind of internal arrangement inside the feeding hole (let us not pause overlong to consider the purpose of the other hole). But it wasn’t conclusively a dove.
So I shook it around a bit (sorry, doves) and zoomed in. And there was a small white columbine-type contraption remarkably similar to those found in the dollar dove. And no, I did not smash open the sea biscuit (it wasn’t actually mine). And no, I didn’t doubt any longer that sea biscuits also contain doves.
SO WILL THERE BE 5 DOVES, LIKE WITH THE DOLLARS?
I predict there will also be five. Both dollars and biscuits have ‘five-way symmetry’ (look on the topside of a biscuit or dollar to see how); and so the mouth (from which the ‘doves’ derive) will have a single part for each of the five sectors, all linked.
If anyone would like to smash up one of their precious beach finds and test the theory, please feel free. Prove me wrong… and I’ll publish a correction! [Photo please…]
All photos Keith Salvesen except Header, Clare Latimer at Delphi