Date of Award

Spring 1940

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




The oyster has been known and used commercially since before the Roman and Greek civilizations, and reports of investigations pertaining to it can be found dating back almost to that period. Because of the commercial value of the oyster, most of the study of' the animal has dealt with its economic importance. Definite information concern­ ing the morphology and microscopic . structure of this Mollusc, therefore, is scarce. To be sure, there is an abundance of miscellaneous literature, but no systematic microscopic study has been reported. T. C . Nelson (1938) states, "A critical survey of the abundant and scattered literature however reveals need for more fundamental investigations of the morphology of this pelecypod and of correlation of such findings with its ecology." Until recently few attempts have been made to gather all the material under one cover. For example Philpots (1890) published two volumes entitled Oysters, and all about them, but he says little of scientific importance. Brooks, of Johns Hopkins University, published his classic book, Oyster, in 1905. This volume contains a vast store- house of information on oyster growing and is of' inestimable value to the layman, but unfortunately for this investigation Brook's work, like that of Philpots, was written for the oysterman. It is ob­vious therefore, that there is a definite need for more accurate work on the oyster. To satisfy this need, the writer has attempted an investigation to gather the existing literature on the subject, and to supplement this material with additional observations, thereby making, in so far as is practicable, a more complete morphological and histological study. Time and space do not permit a very detailed description of the anatomy, but an attempt has been made to summarize the existing information, in most cases after corroborating it in the laboratory at the University of Richmond. Since the original intent of this paper was a description of the digestive tract of Ostrea virginica, special attention will be devoted to it.

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