The Darwin's Day

Phylum Feast

is a shared

potluck meal

composed of

as many taxa

as possible,

celebrated by

naturalists on

Charles Darwin's


12 February,

to commemorate

the relatedness

of all organisms.

Bishops Mills Natural History Centre

area map

contact us

at the Bishops Mills Natural History Centre

We weren't going to have a public Darwin's Day feast this year, but when the Steve Marks-sponsored "Mudpuppy Nite AKA Annual Mid-winter Canadian Herping Trip" of herpetologists from remote regions of Ontario was scheduled to fall on the day, we invited them in. The gathering comprised Carolyn, Dave, and Dawn Seburn (Ottawa), Steve Marks (Windsor), Roxanne St. Martin (Peterborough), Kevin McAvoy, Roxanne Dibbley (came with Roxanna and Steve, all from Guelph), Christina Davy, Christopher Blair (University of Toronto), Brenan Ackert, Jeff Hathaway, Aaron Fishdix, Robin Manley (Orillia), Lindsay Valliant (University of Western Ontario), James Baxter-Gilbert (Sudbury), Jolene Laverty (Clinton), and Katherine Yagi (St Catherines). Items were purchased all along the road, including some unidentified salads, for which we thank Rosa Suddes, Customer Care Specialist of Metro Stores Ontario, for ingredient lists sent by e-mail.

Well, it was some kind of a Phylum Feast - with Bear and Pomegranates and Dulse and Hypsizygus. We crowded 21 people into the living room, and stuffed them full of diversity. Acquiring the diversity was a lot easier because the Seburns came, and they're as good at squeezing diversity out of the grocery stores as we are at scraping it off the road or pulling it out of a swamp.

Despite appalling weakness among the Arthropods (2) and Mollusca (1), our taxon total was 106 or possibly a few more, since ambiguous ingredient choces weren't totalled. This is higher than previous totals, though there were many species available in our cupboards which weren't brought out. However, the fact that some species that were set out never reached the table (asterisked below), suggests that there may be something like a limiting or equilibrium value for the number of species represented in a hastily assembled meal - you just can't get many more species on the table at once without a lot of planning. Afterwards, we went out and reveled in killer-cute Mudpuppies for an hour and a half.

more about Darwins Day


Prokaryotes (2 recognized, myriad others also consumed)
Cheese bacterium, Lactobacillus acidophilus
xanthan gum bacterium Xanthomonas campestris

Fungi (5)

Manitoba Maple Oyster Mushroom, Hypsizygus ulmarius
Brown Beech Mushroom, Hypsizygus tessellatus
Cloud or Wood Ears or Black Fungus, Auricularia polytricha
Bread & Wine Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Brie cheese mold, Penicillium candidum or P. camemberti

Protista (only seaweeds, 5)


Nori, Porphyra
Dulse, Palmaria palmata
agar-agar, Agarophyte Red Algae cf Gracilaria and Gelidium
Irish-moss (as carageenan), Chondrus crispus


Arame, Eisenia bicyclis
Wakame, Undaria pinnatifida


Gymnosperm Conifers, Pinophyta (1)

Eastern White Cedar, Thuja occidentalis as tea

Monocots (13)

Wheat & Kamut, Triticum
Rice, Oryza sativa
Sugar Cane, Saccharum officinarum
Corn, Zea mays
"Bamboo shoots" (subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae)

Leeks, Allium ampeloprasum
Onions, Allium cepa
Garlic, Allium sativum

Coconut, Cocos nucifera
Oil Palm, Elaeis guineensis
Date Palm, Phoenix dactylifera

Vanilla, Vanilla fragrans (V. planifolia?)

*Cattail, Typha x glauca

Dicots (61)

*Lambsquarters, Chenopodium album
Poppy, Papavar somniferum
Olive, Olea europaea
Lemon, Citrus limon
Lime, Citrus aurantifolia
Orange, Citrus sinensis
Mandarin Orange, Citrus reticulata
*Goutweed, Aegopodium podagraria
*Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca
Bay Laurel (leaves), Laurus nobilis
Grape, Vitis spp.
Ginger, Zingiber officinale
Cardamom, Elettaria or Amomum, Zingiberaceae
Turmeric, Curcuma longa, Zingiberaceae

English Walnut, Juglans regia
Pecan, Carya illinoesis
Almond, Prunus dulcis
Hazelnut, Corylus avellana

Jackfruit, Artocarpus heterophyllus or A. heterophylla, Moraceae

Cranberries, Vaccinium macrocarpon
Blueberries, Vaccinium cf corymbosum

Cucumber, Cucurbita sativus
Long Squash, Cucurbita moschata
Watermelon (mini seedless), Citrullus lanatus

Guar (gum), Cyamopsis tetragonolobus
Garden Peas, Pisum sativum
Lentils, Lens culinaris Soy, Glycine max
Gum Arabic, Acacia senegal

Pomegranate, Purica sp.
Black Pepper, Piper nigrum

Tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum
Potatoes, Solanum tuberosum
various Red Peppers, Caspicum ssp.
Paprika, Capsicum annuum

Cabbage (Savoy), Brassica rapa
Canola, Brassica napus
Wasabi, Cochlearia wasabi
Water Cress, Nasturtium officinale

Fig, Ficus
Avocado, Persea americana

Sesame, Sesamum indicum
Banana, Musa acuminata
Cacao, Theobroma cacao

Manioc, Manihot esculenta
Cinnamon, Cinnamomum zeylanicum (C. verum?)

Apple, Pyrus malus
Asian Pear, Pyrus pyrifolia
Pear, Pyrus communis
Umeboshi Plum, Prunus mume
Strawberry, Fragaria hybrid

Sweet Potato, Ipomoea batatas

Sunflower, Helianthus annuus
Jerusalem Artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus
Lettuce, Lactuca sativa

sugaring Maples, Acer cf saccharum

Cumin, Cuminum cyminum, Apiaceae
Coriander, Coriandrum sativum, Apiaceae
Parsley, Petroselinum crispum
Carrot, Daucus carota
Parsnip, Pastinaca sativa

Thyme, Thymus


Vertebrates (13)


Alaskan Pollack, Pollachius virens
possibly Pacific Whiting, Merluccius productus (from seafood salad ingredient list)
Tuna, Thunnus
Salmon, Atlantic, Salmo salar, or Spring, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, or Chum, O. keta (from pate ingredient list)
Herring, Clupaea harengus


Rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus
Black Bear, Ursus americanus
Cattle, Bos taurus
Bison bison
Elk, Cervus elephas
Swine, Sus scrofus
*Goat, Capra hircus - as cheese
Soylent Green, Homo sapiens sapiens (it is not clear which participant was processed in this way, or which other participant recognized subspecies in H. sapiens.


Chicken, Gallus domesticus
Pheasant, Phasianus
Ostrich, Struthio camelus

Crustacea (1)

commercial Shrimp, Penaeidae

Mollusca (1)

Cephalopoda (cf Ilex, commercial Squid) Lindsey Valliant

Insecta (1)

Bee Honey, Apis mellifera

* species prepared for the meal, but not actually put out on the table