Shown below are all the pieces entered into the 2014 Darwin Week Art Competition. Click on the thumbnails to see the full-size photo of the art piece.
Illustrates the similar, basic skeleton transitioning into a variety of slightly different guppies of the same species (the beginning of speciation).
|2|| Protection without defense –
White Rhino (Ceratotherium
Protection without defense – African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis)
Renee E. Hazen
Both pieces represent the way we may see (or hope to see) these species evolve in the future, having smaller or absent tusks and horns. In fact, the reduction in size or loss of tusks has already been noted in the African elephant. This may be due to poachers selecting individuals with larger tusks and allowing other elephants with smaller weaponry to live and reproduce, thereby spreading their genetic material.
Despite the positive development in elephant evolution, this has not been the case with the rhino. Instead, these species have their horns poisoned, dyed or removed by wildlife managers in order to deter poachers. And these efforts have only raised the rhino’s chance of survival by slightly less than 30%. Sadly, poachers are still able to bring about a profit from the stubs left after dehorning.
After learning about these stories, I was curious to what these species may look like without their natural defenses, their tusks and horns. I hope I was able to preserve their character while adding a calm sort of beauty. Nevertheless, it seems there is a sort of symbolic message in this hoped-for form of evolution: By laying down our weapons, we are able to prevent violence and the loss of innocent lives.
|3|| Una raíz
Janesse S. Colón-Ruiz
Red mangrove have evolved certain morphological and physiological adaptations that allows them to thrive in waterlogged soils with high salinity. This piece illustrates root adaptations of Red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) growing in the coast of Puerto Rico.
|5|| Turquoise Cocoon Necklace
Materials: Silk, Steel, plastic, silver plate. Piece: Necklace made from dyed silk cocoons
Cocoons symbolize the metamorphosis between different stages of life. A cocoon provides protection and security from harsh or unfriendly environments.
The practice of breeding silkworms for the production of raw silk has been underway for a minimum of 5,000 years in China. This process is called Sericulture and is being practiced around the world. The domestication of silkworm from the wild silk moth, Bombyx mandarina, has lead to some interesting aspects of the moth. Coaxing the moths generation after generation to produce more bountiful cocoons to be turned into silk has produced an animal that is no longer capable of living in the wild. Adult silk moths have reduced mouthparts and do not feed, they also have very limited flying capabilities. The silk that we are able to harvest from the silk moth can be turned into textiles and transformed into numerous products. Beautiful silk garments and historical tapestries all start off as a small silkworm making a cocoon in the hopes to transform itself into something different.
Under the cover of darkness, nocturnal animals can avoid sweltering temperatures and diurnal hunters. But nothing’s perfect. Some predators have also adopted a nocturnal lifestyle to take advantage of these late-night snacks. As an example of convergent evolution, being nocturnal has evolved as a trait in many different branches of the phylogenetic tree, and tropical rainforests really come alive when the sun goes down. On a nighttime venture in the rainforests of Ecuador one can discover a diversity of insects (long horned beetle - bottom left, malachite butterfly - middle right, unknown caterpillar - middle left), arachnids (wolf spider – top left), frogs (unknown rain frog – top middle, Demerara Falls tree frog – top right, Fleischmann’s glass frog – bottom right), and snakes (cat-eyed snake – middle) active on the vegetation. Each have unique adaptations to the lives they live, such as the glass frog’s transparent skin or the caterpillar’s thorny defenses, but they all have a nocturnal lifestyle in common (except butterflies, which are diurnal but are commonly encountered sleeping on vegetation during nighttime rainforest treks).
The tiger purrs when he sees me. He is stretching out in the sun and feeling retrospective. Curling up next to him is second nature. With my head resting against his warm belly, he explains how his whole existence has been about exploring power and powerlessness up until now.
I close my eyes. How intoxicating it is to have a conversation with him. I am enamored with his voice. Who wouldn't be? The unheard, low-pitched infrasound of his roar can travel long distances – permeating buildings, cutting through dense forests, and even passing through mountains. It doesn't matter that I can't hear frequencies that low. I can still feel them. He speaks softly, giving me a chance to overcome my natural response.
I know he can paralyze even the most experienced tiger trainer with a roar, but I'm trying not anticipate that outcome because some stress hormones don't know when to quit pulling. They remain active in the brain for too long – injuring and even killing cells in the hippocampus, the area of your brain needed for memory and learning. That's why it requires conscious effort to initiate a relaxation response and reestablish metabolic equilibrium. I gain enough power to meet him where he is by not allowing my attention to fragment. That's a skill I learned by meditating.
Humans don't reach deeper understandings by avoiding deep connections. Taking on problems that seem too heavy to hold, much less change, are the key to transformation. Their density is what gives them power. For instance, knowing that tigers are facing extinction isn't enough to get my attention, but witnessing story after story about how they are treated in the wild gives me the energy to strive and stretch further than I think I can. Being willing to see a tiger's point of view is the price I pay to take this trip, but here's the payoff. That openness to change is what empowers a person. It provides a raison d'etre.
Imagination is the alchemy that turns intensity into opportunity. Seeing how far I am willing to follow him opens many doors between us. He rewards me with a taste of real power as we sit together. See that look in his eye? That's timelessness. He's daydreaming alright, but it's more than a conscious trance. He's uses it to re-write his story re-member his body. That is, to release the muscle memory and change the body's chemistry. Relaxation alters the mind. Playing provides insight and inspiration. However, it's the way we actually invest our attention that alters what we believe is possible, and that, my tiger tells me, is how we gain the highest power.
Dreaming is the most important thing we do.
|8||Legacy Across Time
A Grosbeak Finch perches on the skull of a young Tyrannosaurus showing two very different forms from different times during the evolution of the Dinosauria clade.
|9||Please Elaborate on this Thing
You Call a Sporophyte
|10||A Landscape of Evolution