Take a look at this lovely picture. What is it? A cloud over a restless ocean? A rodent running through a fog bank?
One of my favorite research systems is the brown food web–the collection of microbes, microbivores, and their predators that take apart dead stuff and in doing so return nutrients to the soil, carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and generally undo what the green food web does and complete the cycle. The brown food web is where much of the planet’s biodiversity exists, and it is is genuinely muy hermoso y elegante.
At the same time, some of my favorite people are museum people. Remember that scene with the death’s head moth from Silence of the Lambs? Absolutely dead on. Perhaps its all the formaldehyde and mothballs, but museum people have a certain perspective. They also have regular brushes with the brown food web when they want to quickly and cleanly turn a large meaty organic thing into a beautiful skeleton. Watch.