Unearthing Living Fossils

Our aesthetics for hierarchy and progression have also infiltrated evolutionary biology and are exemplified in the notion of “living fossils”. Expectations associated with contrived “primitive taxa” have contaminated scientific inquiry with a priori assumptions. By exploring the stories of animals and plants that are commonly considered “living fossils”, we see how an aesthetic has generally led to preconceived notions of ‘primitive’, maladapted relicts. This prevailing imagery has influenced our scientific research, and masked the real stories of active adaptation and feats of persistence across vast evolutionary time. A sci-art approach demonstrates the imagery and aesthetic long associated with “living fossils”, and attempts to re-depict the more realistic, active and adaptable living organisms. (see also work on lungfish)



Here is one of a series of collagraphs I am working on resetting the story of living fossils. Here I attempt to recast the tuatara from ‘primitive relicts’ to Survivors  – enduring lineages persisting across major continental & climatic shifts and so in no way biologically static.