Promethean

Year: 
2018
Ranking: 
Entrant
Artist: 
Elaine Tan (Undergraduate Student)
Department: 
Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration
Lab: 
UCSB Natural History Collections Club

Description

This pressed red algae Callophyllis violacea, collected at UCSB in 1964, represents the tree of life in its shape, color, and meaning. Like Prometheus gifted fire and changed humanity, algae and related blue-green algae (actually bacteria) created oxygen-based respiration and changed life on Earth. The image is a digitized record of macroalgae Callophyllis violacea from Campus Beach in 1964 that we physically have at the herbarium at UCSB's Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration, under Harder Stadium. The goal is to have each pressed, dried, and preserved algae photographed and uploaded to the Macroalgal Herbarium Consortium Portal so that researchers can access and view specimens for research on past populations, with important information attached to each photo such as date and site of collection. When reviewing uploaded specimens, we were struck by the beauty of this particular algae, a basal oxygen-producing form of life, and its similarity to both flame and more recent depictions of the evolutionary tree of life, despite its origin from the sea 50 years ago.

CSEP CNSI Schuller Lab UCSB