Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the biocreativity readers! I’ve been on a Darwin kick since last Sunday’s Darwin Day celebration at the Texas Memorial Museum, so I thought you’d like to know that I am so thankful to have you readers who select my blog posts to read, naturally! 🙂

As I put the finishing touches on the Darwin Day Portrait Project I wanted to share this quick photo from the event. Keep an eye out for the time-lapse of Mr. Darwin coming together as well as the final product (which will soon be hanging in the Texas Memorial Museum) a little later this week!

Darwin Day Portrait Project © 2012 by Hayley Gillespie.

In the biocreative spirit of Valentine’s Day, make sure to give your sweetie a kiss. Just make sure your true love isn’t a Triatomine, or kissing bug – the vector for the tropical parasitic protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes Chagas disease. These insects emerge at night and feed on the blood of animals – in humans usually biting on the face or near the mouth, and can spread the T. cruzi parasite if they have “kissed” an infected person. It has been hypothesized that Darwin himself may have contracted this parasite while exploring the Americas on the H.M.S. Beagle, which lead to lifelong health complications. Interestingly, the curator of Westminster Abbey refuses to allow Darwin’s body to be tested for evidence of the disease. Though potentially deadly, the kissing bugs can be strikingly beautiful. If you missed it, here’s a beautiful rendition of a Triatomine kissing bug by metalsmith Charity Hall (from the most recent ECO Art + Science Series feature).

Kissing Bug Brooch. Copper, enamel, garnet. Image © 2011 Charity Hall.

Who knows….it may have selected Darwin, naturally. Happy Valentine’s Day!