Scientist Creates Cover for Darwin's 'Origin of Species,' Made From Bacteria

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

All of Earth's life originally started out as bacteria. That's why an English scientist used different varieties of the microorganisms to create a new cover for Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, The Guardian reports.

Dr. Simon Park is a senior lecturer in molecular biology at England's Surrey University and curator of C-MOULD, one of the world's largest collection of microorganisms for artistic use. Park used a bacterium that produces cellulose—the substance that makes up most of a plant's cell walls, and is used to make paper and cotton—to "grow" a new front for Darwin's seminal treatise on evolutionary biology. He then used a collection of colored bacteria to "illustrate" the cover.

"The pages took a week to grow as a thick (1-to-2 centimeter) jelly-like wet bacterial mat and then I dried this over a period of two days, to remove the water, and to make the paper-like material," Park told Newsweek. "The book has six pages but only the cover is illustrated with bacteria at the moment."

Park believes that his book project is the first to be made entirely from bacteria. He recently showcased his unconventional work at the 2016 Edinburgh International Science Festival, which ended on April 10. Attendees were “intrigued” by the book cover, Park says, because they usually only associate bacteria with disease—not creativity.

The unconventional take is something that even Darwin may have been fascinated by. The revolutionary scientist didn't live long enough to realize the importance of bacteria, which had just been discovered during his lifetime, Park tells The Guardian. "Had he known about them, then they would have been an important part of his evolutionary story," he says.

[h/t The Guardian]