Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Variation Under Nature / Variation Under Domestication

2013 Darwin Week Art Competition

First Place, piece no. 18.  Cetaceous leporidae, ‘Large Sea Hare’ by Robin Gordon. Photo of Robin accepting her award from Dr. Daniel Nickrent, Plant Biology.

Robin Gordon

Second Place, piece no. 5.  Trojan Corn by  Beth Martell. Morris Library, Special Collections.

Third Place, piece no. 15. Poplars on Poplar by Jeremy Graham.  Plant Biology.

Honorable Mention, piece no. 12.  Life Suspended in Water Drops by Ashpey Pedone. Photo of Ashpey accepting her award from Dr. Daniel Nickrent, Plant Biology.

Ashpey Pedone

Honorable Mention, piece no. 13.  Stripes Behind Bars by Eva Kwiatek. Photo of Eva accepting her award from Dr. Daniel Nickrent, Plant Biology.

Eva Kwiatek

Some Photos of the Event

Amelia Merced, graduate student in Plant Biology, who organized the 2013 Darwin Week Art Competition.

Amelia Merced

Some photos of folks at the reception

Tony Sparer

reception reception
Amelia and Richard Bryan Piatowski

Art Entries for 2013

Shown below are all the pieces entered into the 2013 Darwin Week Art Competition.  Although displayed, pieces 3, 6, and 21 were not judged for the competition. Please excuse any poor photographs which were compromised by poor lighting conditions (reflections).  Click on the thumbnails to see the full-size photo of the art piece.

1 Sketches of two whales
Meaghan Petix
Plant Biology
2 Eyes wide open
Eva Kwiatek
The double-striped thick knee is a special bird that relies on its camouflage to conceal itself from predators. The bird has the ability to fly, but chooses to avoid it as much as possible to keep its eyes on food. It has two “knees” that bend both forward and backward giving it the ability to position itself comfortably no matter the position. The call it gives to find a mate is ear drum piercing and effective.
3 Caracoles
Amelia Merced
Plant Biology
These shells were found on the beach, in an area of less than 1m2 apart. How can you explain that no one of them is alike? Variation is the result of different genotypes and exists in nature to provide the primary material for selection and evolution to take place.
4 Stretch
Jacqueline Pompa
Aquatic Ecology, Radbound University Nijmegen, Netherlands
This is a picture of a dragonfly struggling to leave its aquatic skin and start a terrestrial life in the Swiss Alps. It illustrates variation in life forms and existence in nature, but also the capability of species to have beautiful varieties of natures during their life cycle.
5 Trojan corn
Beth Martell
Morris Library, Special Collections
"We are face to face with a corn that won't process the way it's processed for the last 150 years ...We have a corn that ruins food for starch uses. If it goes into shipments to Japan, if you were the Japanese, would you want to be buying from an area that grew this corn, that approved this corn?"
6 Yakka: Stretch for the sun
Stephen Ebbs
Plant Biology
The giant inflorescences of yakka (Xanthorrhoea johnsonii) bolt towards the sun in a costal wetland in Australia.  The height of each inflorescence stalk varies from plant to plant, as does the number of flowers on each stalk.  Each inflorescence usually extends vertically towards to sun, but occasionally certain individual plants produce inflorescences with unique bends or twists (one example appears in the extreme right in the background with a 30 degree angle bend near the tip, another in the right foreground).
7 Man’s morph (Albino reticulated phyton)
Stephanie Jaros
In domesticated herp culture, many enthusiasts have utilized recessive genes to create different morphs of snakes, lizards, turtles, and so on. Man has selectively breed to create an interesting variety of herps on the market today. One of the biggest and well known morphs would be leucism and albinos. One might say their unique lack of color started it all.
8 Tree
Josh Freeman
This piece is about humanity’s negative impact on the environment.
9 Variation in life history of neotropical amphibians
Amanda Rugenski
The photographs represent the variation in life history stages of endangered amphibians that are dependent on both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. The top right photo is of a larval tadpole (Smilisca), and the top left of a metamorph before emergence (Lithobates). Both of these photos were taken underwater in their natural habitat.  The bottom right is of a froglet that is direct development and does not go through an aquatic larval phase but is the same age as the top two photos. The bottom left is an adult Atelopus. Frogs are awesome!
10 Preying for a meal
Elliott Zieman
This mantis shows a body plan that is unique to mantids. She has specially adapted captorial forelegs for grasping prey as well as complex compound eyes for detecting and accurately acquiring prey.
11 Honeycreepers
Alexandra Davis
Anthropology (Zoology minor)
This piece exemplifies how geographic isolation, such as that created by the islands of Hawaii, contributes to speciation. In this case, each bird, the apapane, i’iwi and akepa. Has a unique beak that suits a diet specific to their geographic region.
12 Life suspended in water drops
Ashpey Pedone
These half spheres have images of diatoms on the bottoms. Diatoms are ubiquitous and live in almost every body of water. These images are samples from three different locations, showing the drastically different environments diatoms thrive in: Baikal Lake, with some of the oldest organisms in it; Beowulf spring, that has about a pH of 2; and Biscayne Bay, Florida. In these images there is also a large variety of different diatoms that live in the same location.
13 Waiting for the cover of snow
Queen of the savannah
Stripes behind bars
Eva Kwiatek
The snow leopard was made for its environment. It has large paws to keep a grip in the snow, the paws also have fur between each digit to keep out the cold. Giant fangs fill the mouth of this cat, though it never roars. Its legs are meant for pouncing 20 feet high and nearly 40 feet horizontally. Its beautiful tail measures twice as long as its body to be able to wrap it around itself to keep warm in the high slope. If its coloring isn’t enough to show its strength in attacking prey, the 200 meters it can um at a time to chase down pray would change your mind.
The brilliance of a lioness is proven in her hunting. The stealth that she uses to stalk prey faster than herself gives her an edge. Her vision that “shines” in the dark makes her a dangerous predator. Her forward facing eyes, ready for the pounce to end a life.
Domestication of a wild animal isn’t a process that happens overnight. Tigers with their beautiful stripes help them blend into their homeland, but in an enclosure, they’re out of their element. Their keen sense of smell used to judge and follow their captors. Her stripes may be different from her sister’s, but they both share the sense malice in the human smell.
14 Mary The Oracle
Troy "Scat" Patterson
Art and Design
This piece is part of a series of works entitled "Unladylike", in which a body of art portrays the good that comes from something that is shamed in today's society. The "Unladylike" series shows a positive, optimistic perspective towards women on the many things that most people in this century subconsciously view as negative; such as: single-mother households, change in women's fashion, women with tattoos and piercings, exotic dancers and adult film stars, and women's consumption of drugs and alcohol. The title and concept of this piece was inspired by a movie written and directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski entitled, The Matrix, in where a computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers. In this war, enslaved humans are kept docile within the "matrix"- a simulation of the world as it was in 1999. In The Matrix, the Oracle (a character played by a woman named Mary Alice) is a "program designed to investigate the human psyche" -allowing the matrix to become more accustomed for the majority of the human population to accept. In relation to The Matrix, "Mary the Oracle" is a rebel woman-tree growing out of the earth, made up of flowers and different strands of cannabis- playing on a perspective where the marijuana woman-tree is portrayed as a natural substance not equally accepted in today's society, but however, is still growing and staying alive in a world that is stuck on the negative marijuana myths put forth by President Nixon in 1972.
15 Poplars on Poplar
Jeremy Graham
Plant Biology
This piece depicts variation of leaf shape within the “pop-u-lar” Poplar trees from different geographic ranges.  In this case one of the species is commonly called a Poplar but is actually a member of the Magnolia family, thus illustrating variation within proper naming.  It is also meant to represent the variety of domestic uses of Poplar trees, in this case as decoration.  From top left moving clockwise the species are P. tremuloides (trembling aspen), P. trichocarpa (black cottonwood), Liriodendron tulipefera (tulip poplar), and P. alba (white poplar).
16 Third Eye
Adam Chupp
Plant Biology
The false eye mimicry seen here is somewhat rare among insect larvae. However, this defensive strategy is common among larvae in the genus Papilio. This Papilio palamedes (Palamedes swallowtail) larva is in its fourth instar and nearly ready to pupate. The false eye and swollen thorax draw attention away from the actual head, which is only completely revealed during feeding. Interestingly, the appearance of larvae during earlier stages mimics that of bird droppings. Therefore, this photo illustrates the highly adapted morphological variations of individual life stages.
17 Wolf to Woof– Wild nature can be domesticated
Uday Kumar Chintapula
Biomedical Engineering    
This picture shows the power of domestication on the wild nature. Two of the different species exist in symbiosis. We can see the picture of a man with his dog at a lakeside before a violent thunderstorm where the sky was lit by the red light produced by the conjunction of Sun’s rays and clouds. A report published in Nature compared the DNA of 12 gray wolves with 60 dogs (including 14 different breeds) and found there were key differences which allowed dogs to digest carbohydrates far more easily. The presence of changes to starch and sugar-processing genes would have allowed early dogs to make the most of the scraps they could scavenge from human settlements, helping them to thrive despite abandoning the pack lifestyle. The other scientists have suggested that these genes may have become adapted after the DOMESTICATION of dogs as the carb heavy diet promoted the specialization of the carbohydrate digestion genes. In context to ‘Variation under domestication’, we have to question ourselves whether the genes are altered accordingly to adapt the domestication (food, lifestyle, etc. ) or Domestication brings the change in genes. Reference: Los Angeles Times – Science January 23, 2013
18 Cetaceous leporidae, ‘Large Sea Hare’
Robin Gordon
The large sea hare (Cetaceous leporidae) is the genetic manipulation of the humpback whale and large land hare. In similarity with its baleen whale cousins, the sea hare is a social mammal and travels in pods. Smaller then one of the larger rorqual species, adults range in length from 8–12 meters and weigh approximately 30,000 kilograms. The sea hare is classified a Domesticated Variation under the Treatise of Biotechnology. This is due to the dependency the animal has on the creator to survive. This new species lacks the instinctual behaviors of its cousins. Although it may mate and occasionally give live birth, mothers regularly abandon the young. One species in history that was used to label such dependency was the Whooping Crane. This large bird found in North America declined in population and would have become extinct by the mid 1950’s if conservation efforts had not begun. By the early 2000’s there were close to 500 living birds. These cranes hatched in captivity, would reportedly lay eggs that they would later abandon to never hatch. Unfortunately, scientists and behaviorists never did solve how to make the population of the Whooping Crane self-sufficient. Government funding cuts in the 2050’s led to the eventual extinction of the crane by the year 2114. The last Whooping Crane died on September 1, 2114, at the Cincinnati Zoo. The Large Sea Hare seems to be an unfortunate exercise of geneticists to show off their capability in genetic craft if not forethought.
19 Variation under domestication (strawberries)
Lily Glaeser
Plant Biology
Wild strawberries and agricultural strawberries differ in many ways. Demonstrated here, the color of wild strawberries is much darker. The agricultural strawberry is much larger with greenish seeds and a more cordate appearance.
20 Bovine breeding
Eva Kwiatek
The many years of domestication of cattle has led to the want for a more perfect beast. The years have proven that hybrids vigor makes for a larger animal with the selection of two different animals. These breeding techniques and consumer demand have lead to the creation of the Hereford/Angus cross. It’s no longer a choice of need, but want.
21 Pepo who need Pepo
Dan Nickrent
Plant Biology
These gregarious gourds and pompous pumpkins shown here represent many cultivated varieties of one species, Cucurbita pepo (Cucurbitaceae). These fruits were on display at the Missouri Botanical Garden (St. Louis) in October of 2004. Fossil fruits and seeds of Cucurbita date back at least 10,000 years from Mexico to northern South America, possibly the oldest records for humans use of any plant. The reasons why are straightforward.  Not only do the fruits produce edible flesh and seeds, but once that is eaten, the hard rind can be dried and used as a container to carry water, store food, etc.  The plants are easily grown in warm climates, and this must have prompted the ancient plant breeders to “tinker” with the genetics. And how the genetic potential of these plants has been exploited!  The photo shows the incredible range of size, shape and color that has been achieved by artificial selection, a process that Darwin elegantly showed, through many examples, that is not very different from natural selection.
22 Cats of different “Miu’s”
Julie Driebergen
This piece illustrates Variation Under Domestication. The people of ancient Egypt were the first to domesticate cats because of their need to control pests in their crops. They even viewed them as Gods and Goddesses. They referred to them as miu or muit meaning he or she who mews. If it were not for the “Egyptian” cat, people would not have pet cats.  The “Egyptian” cat descended from the African Wild Cat. Today, there are many breeds of cats with various fur colors and types, and body structures. Some are larger than the original domesticated cat while others are smaller. These changes occurred due to selective breeding and artificial selection due to the various environments and situations humans placed cats into. Depicted in the art piece are the African Wild Cat of ancient Egypt and its ancestors: the Maine Coon Cat, the Siamese Cat, the Sphynx Cat, the Persian Cat, and the American Longhair cat. These cats have diverse characteristics due to man’s interference.
23 Jim, Jim's Auto
Nathan Fortmeyer
Department of Cinema and Photography
This photograph of Jim, the proprietor of "Jim's Auto," depicts a man in his milieu: a cluttered, expansive automobile repair shop. Jim has amassed an encyclopedic knowledge of automobiles, and his shop is a testament to his skills, knowledge, and craft. The more humans depend upon automobiles to navigate their environment, the more Jim's business will thrive. Jim has adapted his experience to a specific niche, and exhibits profound creativity and adaptability when fixing automobiles; as a result, Jim is well equipped to contend with the myriad variations in make, model, and design of automobile.
24 Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter
Diane Harshbarger
Plant Biology    
Humans love their dogs, and dogs will do most anything to please their humans. Although this collage may seem silly, it is true that humans are in control of the variation we see in domesticated creatures. Domestication of dogs by human owners has resulted in various forms of apparel to provide comfort during inclement weather. Who knows, over time domesticated dogs may evolve into nearly hairless organisms dependent on clothing, much like us!
25 Layered Abstraction
Kathy Hytten
Education Administration and Higher Education
In this piece, I play with variations on shape and color in creating a variety of abstract flower paintings. I started by painting 12 colored panels and then layered different colors and shapes on top as the paint dried. Even using a limited number of colors and shapes, the possibilities for variety are infinite.  While abstract, the final painting represents one vision of natural variety. The accompanying photographs represent the evolution of that variation.

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