exquisite skeletons

diatoms make up about a quarter of plant life by weight and produce 
a quarter of the oxygen we breathe. some 25 million would fit in a 
teaspoon, yet they can provide nutrition to animals as large as
baleen whales. 

according to richard fortey, who wrote dry storeroom no. 1: the 
secret life of the natural history museum, "few people know that 
diatoms exist, yet the stories they have to tell may chart shifts of 
climate that are crucial to understanding how the world came to 
its present state." 

i agree with him and his assertion that support be given to experts in small 
and less showy organisms such as they, but i'm also fascinated by their shapes 
and delicate filigrees, and cannot help but wonder if the makers, who created 
the ornaments pictured below, took inspiration from them.

gold brooch with pearls and star sapphire intaglio

gold filigree dress ornaments from the 13th-14th century 

image credits: uppermost collage ~ Proyecto Agua via flickr; 2nd collage ~ graham matthews & natural history museum; 3rd image ~ metropolitan museum of art; 4th image ~ sotheby's

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