Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Beauty in a Garden




In ancient times, when I was a biology student in university, I worked as an undergraduate assistant in the department. I assisted a professor and his graduate student. Dr. Hetzel was a professor of invertebrate zoology, (note: it's pronounced "zO ology", not "zoo ology"!), which was what was my interest. This was due to my intention at the time of going into marine biology or some other form of aquatic biology. While there are plenty of vertebrates in aquatic environments, the invertebrate world forms the foundation of the animal kindgdom, and I felt was especially important in marine environments, hence its importance.
So for me, animal species that are seen as "icky" and evoke a "Yewwww!" or fear reactions are for me simply objects of curiosity if not fascination, and often of beauty and awe.
Dr. Hetzel's Masters student, Shirley Moore, was doing her research in slug hematology, i.e. the study of "slug blood". (I don't recall the species Ms. Moore worked with, though I believe it was the "common garden" slug.)
So when I saw this story in the the Toronto Star, the photo of this beautiful (yes beautiful!) slug just popped off the screen and took me back to the days when on the microtome, I sliced up the sacrificed slugs which had been embedded in parafin.
So the next time my wife calls me a "slug", I'll point out how beautiful a slug can be. Of course, she may still choose to think about parafin and slicing ...