Ancient Microworlds
Norman Barker and Giraud Foster

The splendors of nature surround us with an endless variety of forms, textures and colors. A brief viewing of an unhurried contemplation may be all that is necessary to allow us to appreciate the beauty of a flower, a tree, a bird, a sunrise, a sunset, the ocean’s surf, a vast landscape. However, as finite human beings, each of us may have the opportunity to observe only a few of the multitude of wonders in our world of nature. Through the images on this page, Giraud Foster and Norman Barker present the fossil world to us on a grand scale as seen through their eyes as they search for the beautiful and visually stimulating.

Foster and Barker stand in a venerable tradition. Before the age of photography, artists were responsible for documenting discoveries of plants and animals new to science.  They depicted their subjects from firsthand experience in the company of early explorers all over the world, and their illustrations are exceptional for their beauty of detail and color. Some of the plants and animals they illustrated are now extinct. Thus, the illustrations are our only means of viewing some of the past splendors of nature.

Today we have the virtually unsurpassed medium of photography, which can capture images of sites and subjects from nature that we, as individuals, may dream of actually seeing but cannot realize in our short lives.

Most of us are accustomed to the larger elements of our environments. Few of us, however, have taken the time to enter the world visible through a magnifying lens. This is the special achievement of Foster and Barker.  These images present a specially selected group of color photographic images that reveal the beauty of fossils at high magnification. A fossil is any evidence of past life, including shells, bones, teeth, wood, roots, and leaves, that has been preserved in the crust of the earth by geologic processes. Given that definition, how might one expect to find such beauty revealed in a relic of life? You can see and appreciate that beauty for yourself through the images on this page.

Giraud Foster is a physician, biochemist, research investigator, archaeologist, and photographer. Norman Barker is a biomedical / scientific photographer and on the faculty at The Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine in the Departments of Pathology and Art as Applied to Medicine.

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Copyright 2007, The Journal of Biocommunication, All Rights Reserved
Table of Contents for VOLUME 33, NUMBER 2