WIP with Dr John van Wyhe


Charles Darwin was obsessed with barnacles and he spent eight years publishing the definitive work on them. Yet these must be some of the most dull, boring and unsung encrustations of rocks and ships one could think of. How did they capture the imagination of someone like Darwin? Could they actually be a rather sexy topic after all? Barnacles took Darwin on an extraordinary journey. During his voyage on the Beagle, they revealed the secrets of how giant animals went extinct in South America, how earthquakes were building up the Andes step by step, and finally led him to a picture of the true diversity of the living world. They even suggested how sexuality evolved in the first place.

*Warning: sexually explicit content may shock some listeners!

The Tembusu (Fagraea fragrans) is a large evergreen tree in the family Gentianaceae. It is native to Southeast Asia. Its trunk is dark brown, with deeply fissured bark, looking somewhat like a bittergourd. It grows in an irregular shape from 10 to 25m high. Its leaves are light green and oval in shape. Its yellowish flowers have a distinct fragrance and the fruits of the tree are bitter tasting red berries, which are eaten by birds and fruit bats.