Darwin on the beach

July 25, 2012 • 12:29 pm

On April 1 a sand-sculpture competition was held at Tottori Dunes in Japan. The theme was “Great Britain.”  Among the amazing artworks was one of Darwin and Newton by Karen Fralich of Canada (photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe):

Chuck looks a little “off” in a way I can’t quite discern, but it’s impressive nonetheless. Go here to see many more photos.

Quiz: in what other way was Darwin involved with sand?

h/t for photos: Matthew Cobb

39 thoughts on “Darwin on the beach

    1. It was actually call “The Sandwalk,” and I’ve traversed it many times. You can see pictures here. And of course that’s where Larry Moran got the title of his website.

      1. At least I was along the right lines Jerry; I have also walked the path – it is a magical experience each and every time. I don’t think it was ever called “Sandwalk”, “Sand walk” nor “Sand-walk” by CD himself. Nora Barlow, Francis Darwin and other biographers/editors refer to it thus.

        I take the liberty of appending my calling card


      2. I recant: there is one mention by CD of the “sand-walk”, not in his “autobiography”, but in a letter,

        Darwin to Darwin, W. E. 9 May [1861]

        “Tim has been staying here: he is a helpless fellow, he let the Pony loose in the Westerham Rd. & the pony came home across country in gallant style, jumping everything & cleared the Hurdles & Hedge into the sand-walk.”


  1. I think it’s that Chuck always looks abstracted, inward or slightly sad.
    He never appears that “forward looking” or resolute.
    That has a hint Jean Luc Picard with a big beard.

    1. I think it’s that Chuck always looks abstracted, inward or slightly sad.

      Considering the nature of his internal problems … that’s less than surprising. Or perhaps he was just thinking of something interesting when posing for the multi-second-long exposures in 1860s photographs.
      To me … that design of Darwin and Newton looks like it’s off the back of a Bank-of-England note. I don’t have any BoE notes in my pocket to check though, just BoScotland and Clydesdale.

  2. Quiz: in what other way was Darwin involved with sand?

    Ah, The Sandwalk.

    I was going to suggest the question referred to the substance that filled many of his critic’s heads…

  3. The iconic image of old Darwin is en face. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him 3/4 like this, and I don’t actually recall any full profile pictures of him.

    Perhaps that’s what’s ‘off’.

  4. Chuck looks a little “off” in a way I can’t quite discern…

    I think his beard is somewhat longer than usual images show, but moreover it’s more squared-off, and that is probably for structural reasons (for the sculpture).

    1. PS, how to they do this? For instance, what keeps his nose from falling off? Do they add anything to the sand?

      1. I think it’s recognizable as CD. At least, I think if I saw it without any cues / pre-commentary, I’d take it as Darwin.

      2. The Jesus’n’Mo Artist will be flattered that you’ve sculpted one of his minor recurring characters (Moses) along with one of his three main characters (the Barmaid).
        Have you told him yet, or are you planning to send it to him in a box, with some random wires and an alarm clock?
        Did Darwin imitate Moses? Or did Moses imitate Darwin (via ‘the Artist’)?

  5. “In what other way was Darwin involved with sand?”

    Is it where his detractors keep their heads?

  6. The enlarged brow is missing. His face had deep lines radiating from the edges ofhis nose (at ~ 40 degrees.)

    The beard is too long, too wide, and not scraggly at the bottom.

    Sand walk.

    1. Reading … following up an incidental lead, and finding amusement in being asked for £12 to finish reading a letter about the financial problems of Open Access publishing for the independent or un-granted researcher.
      Returning to topic … the snake-lizard paper isn’t in this week’s number.
      Last week’s … includes the summary

      Unionization review
      Union membership could reopen for US research assistants.

      Which implies that “the land of the free” imposes limits on freedom of association for research assistants? Sounds odd ; and worrying. But moving on …
      Ah, found it. In “Advanced Online Publication,” not in the normal line of publication.
      Abstracting the abstract :

      Snakes are the most diverse group of lizards, but their origins and early evolution remain poorly understood owing to a lack of transitional forms. Several major issues remain outstanding, such as whether snakes originated in a marine or terrestrial environment and how their unique feeding mechanism evolved. The Cretaceous Coniophis precedens was among the first Mesozoic snakes discovered, but until now only an isolated vertebra has been described and it has therefore been overlooked in discussions of snake evolution. Here we report on previously undescribed material from this ancient snake, including the maxilla, dentary and additional vertebrae.
      Coniophis occurs in a continental floodplain environment, consistent with a terrestrial rather than a marine origin; furthermore, its small size and reduced neural spines indicate fossorial habits, suggesting that snakes evolved from burrowing lizards.

      Still, another transitional fossil has split “God” into two sub-Gods, wedged deeper in the cracks of evolutionary history.
      I hope I’ve got my HTML right ; but without a ‘Preview’ option … unless … that problem worked around.

      1. Glad to see the Longrich et al. Coniophis paper mentioned here… The newly described fossils are limited in quality and quantity, but distinctly lizardy; the analysis and supp info is excellent (though you can still tell that supp files in Nature aren’t proofread), and I get a lot of cites in it.

        1. It was listed under “Advanced Online Publication” on my (no-longer) subscribed edition.

  7. I see the “Sandwalk” comments above.
    I raise you Darwin’s classical descriptions of fulgarites (lightning-strike fused-sand glass structures) from the pampas of Argentina, during one of his onshore jaunts.
    Next arenaceous association of CD?

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