What’s With the Jokes?

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A few days ago, I wrote about an object that I’ve had in my possession for about twenty years (see One of God’s Little Jokes). I’m not sure what it is and I’ve never seen anything like it before or since – until yesterday.

I may as well go ahead and show you the photo:

 Parrotfish beak

Although the pattern is radically different (and nowhere near as startling), it is obviously the same kind of thing – a parrotfish beak. I’m pretty sure now.

Okay, I ask you sincerely, what are the chances? I pick up a strange object that I’ve never encountered before. It has an amazing pattern on it. I don’t see anything like it again for twenty years. I write a post about it. Three days later, I find the same kind of object while strolling down the beach. Is this another joke?

How common are these? Actually, they should be fairly common according to my thinking. On a tropical beach such as we have here, a large portion of what you’re walking on is quite literally parrotfish poop. Yes, that’s right. The parrotfish bites chunks of coral off with choppers such as you see in the photo. It grinds up the coral chunks with bony plates in its throat. It extracts the nutrients and then excretes the ground up coral out the stinky end. Accoring to the folks at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, a single (presumably large) parrotfish can produce a tonne of sand a year. I can think of all sorts of amusing things to say here, but most of them are too scatalogical to be polite.

Probably all that remains when a parrotfish dies are the two beaks and the bony plates. If poop makes up most of the beach, then these other parts should be pretty common too.

That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it. Anyway, I’m going to start looking for these things. I still have a few years left, I hope. I’m having far too much fun to stop now.

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