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Ehux, a marvel of…

Observatory ehux draw smIf there is something of a celeb in the coccolithophore world, then it seems to be Ehux (Emiliania huxleyi), the one named after Henry Thomas Huxley. The coccoliths that make up its shell are certainly intricate, with its two-layer structure making it possible for neighbouring coccoliths to slide into one another and lock together to form a rigid spherical outer casing. It was Huxley that championed the (at the time) new idea of evolution, but it was a later Victorian, D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, whose fascination with the intricate and beautiful forms that he saw in nature led him to question whether natural selection was such a great force for change, or whether of equal importance was physics: that this world will only permit certain forms to appear due to the way atoms and materials behave. So, when I am drawing this Ehux coccolithophore, I love the regularity of it, which feels that it has more to do with the physical world, but also the unevenness within that regularity, the little idiosyncrasies,  which is what I see as biology’s contribution. Think I will leave this drawing there. D’Arcy Thompson’s On Growth and Form is worth checking out.

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