Wiwaxia may just be the strangest animal to have roamed the Cambrian seas of the Burgess Shale. Resembling something out of a Metroid game, this primitive mollusc is mostly known through isolated fossils of its hard, carbonaceous scales. However, paleontologists have found enough complete specimens of Wiwaxia to understand how the animal changed as it aged — growing larger, changing its shape, and sprouting two rows of blade-like defensive spikes.
Top image: Fossil of an adult Wiwaxia at the ROM. (source)
Bottom images: Computer models of the growth stages of Wiwaxia. Clockwise from top left: a juvenile, an adolescent, and an adult. (source)
Representation Matters: Doc McStuffins
As you know, I am such a fan of media representation for women in STEM, but I haven’t given fair credit to the amazing Doc McStuffins! I feel like I’ve been living under a rock, but this little girl is absolutely perfect. She’s the daughter of a doctor and takes the things she learns from her mom and applies them to her own practice, Her toy practice! She’s smart, curious and according to show creator Chris Nee, she’s also a “strong, assertive character who’s going places in life”. In one episode she was struggling with a diagnosis for one of her patients, but that didn’t get her down. “I won’t give up, until I figure it out!” she cried! She is just the role model pre-school kids deserve.
While she’s teaching kids about health and hygiene, she also making a huge impact. Doc McStuffins is a top rated-program for the 2-5 age group. Little boys and girls love her; merchandise of the show garnered more than $500 million in sales last year. I can’t go to a restaurant or a grocery store anymore without seeming some kid toting her doll around. She’s everywhere!
While she’s awesome and adorable, most importantly she’s a great role model for young girls, especially for girls of color. There is a disproportionately low number of women in STEM, but there’s an even less women of color in STEM fields. Women of color make up about 7% of employed scientists and only 1.9% of the nation’s doctors.
“It’s so powerful to show representation of somebody who’s not usually on TV”, show creator Chris Nee spoke of this importance in a recent interview with MSNBC. Representation matters. Women, especially young people, need to see themselves in the characters they see. It gives them to the chance to say “I could do that, I could be that”. Even Disney executives admit the power media has on the way people, especially kids, see the world. So for a character like Doc McStuffins, a little girl of color who is interested in STEM, to have all the force of the Disney brand behind her, is something to truly celebrate!
Sculptures Made from Wild Plants and Weeds by Émeric Chantier
Emeric Chantier is a French sculptor/installation artist from Paris, France who evolves plants into skulls, weapons, people, foetus, face, and other objects that reflect society.