National Geographic : 1973 Nov
examine live specimens. In them he found some of the largest animal-muscle fibers in the world: They ranged from 14 to 20 times thicker than human ones. "By first injecting highly sensitive chemical agents into the live fibers, followed by elec trodes to stimulate them," Dr. Hoyle ex plained to me, "we were able directly to con firm the sequence of events-lasting only a small fraction of a second-that cause mus cles to contract." Balanus nubilus is not the only edible bar nacle in the world. Coast dwellers in Greece, Spain, and Italy harvest goose barnacles (Le padomorpha), which, to a New Englander like me, look more appetizing. With their long stalks (pages 626-8) they resemble the succu lent long-neck steamer clams found in tidal flats along our shores. Some people eat these barnacles raw, either plain or with a vinaigrette sauce. Or they may be steamed or grilled with butter. Un like the steamer clam, it is the stalk, not the body, that is eaten. Less of a pest than the cone-shaped variety, goose barnacles appear most frequently on floating objects like buoys and bits of rotting wood. Specimens fringe the edges of every continent, including Antarctica, but also ven ture far out to sea. During his reed-boat crossing of the Atlantic in 1970, Thor Heyer dahl found some in mid-ocean-firmly glued to globs of solidified oil.* Through nauplius and cypris stages, goose and acorn barnacles lead parallel lives. But when settling time comes, the goose barnacle builds an almond-shaped wigwam and at taches itself by a single elongated fleshy stalk. *The anthropologist recounted "The Voyage of Ra II" in the January 1971 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC.