Georgia Journal of Science


Shell Bluff is described by geologists as stratigraphically one of the most important exposures in the Georgia Coastal Plain because the bluff is home to the large oyster, Crassostrea gigantissima, now extinct. Native Americans inhabited this area prior to Hernando DeSoto and his men who visited the area in 1540. They were probably the first Europeans to visit Shell Bluff. John and son William Bartram visited the bluff in 1764 and John described the bluff in his journal and the existence of large oysters. The British naturalist, John Finch, described a fossil oyster taken from the site in 1824 as Ostrea gigantissima, but later named Crassostrea gigantissima. This paper reviews the natural history of the oyster’s identification, and the importance of the oyster and its name.