Foraminifera Studies

Spent an incredible time with the Bowser group at New Harbor, observing their process and learning about Foraminifera, and now I find myself continuing to muddle over the many unanswered questions raised by their study…. If anyone is interested in learning more about Foraminifera, here are some excellent articles from the Antarctic Sun. Note: for those of you who are reading the Antarctic Sun online — did you know that you are seeing it in color, whereas most Antarcticans only see it in black and white? Here’s why: the online version of the Sun (and the downloadable PDF version) include color photographs along with the articles… As soon as the Sun is published, xeroxed copies are set out in the Galley, so we can all read and discuss the black and white edition while we eat, so most of us never see the color version!

[Single-cell giants of the deep (1999)->

[Rulers of the bottom-dwellers (2002)->

[Camera spies on single-celled carnivores (2005) PDF – see page 7 ->

Forams, despite the fact that they are just itty-bitty protozoac specks of life, demonstrate amazing predatory – even creative – talents. Keep in mind that they are SINGLE CELLED CREATURES — no eyes, no ears, no hands, no ‘brains’ per say — but they can prey upon creatures more complex/larger than themselves (briefly inverting the direction of the food chain!). And some of the benthic varieties demonstrate mysterious powers of aesthetic selection as they pull together bottoms sands for their “shells.” The Quartzball, for example, selects only clear grains of sand for its shell. How does it tell a clear grain of sand from an opaque milky grain? The Astrommina Rara Perfecta cements its grains into a perfect surface, like mortar flush with the surface of bricks, or pebbles pressed onto the surface of a cement stepping stone. The Astrommina Rara Cornuta, by comparison, has a rougher surface, irregular grains, and the cement is recessed from the surface. How are these aesthetic differences explained?


The past week has swung between wild highs (my rare lonely walk along Cape Bernacchi) and lows (realizing how quickly the time is going by, and accepting a number of itinerary snags and delays) but a constant reassurance was knowing that several writers in back in McMurdo had decided to write “villanelles” together(!), after my friend Bill forwarded the villanelle structure and some sample poems. I am just thrilled to think that there are folks writing villanelles together in Antarctica this week…

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