Originally posted on the EGU blog network
When you start looking at things at a microscopic level, everything starts to look a little alien. Minerals assemblages can look like the landscapes of far off planets and microbes can look like their inhabitants. One such type of alien looking microscopic life form are diatoms.
Diatoms are type of algae and their colonies generate the strangest of shapes; think of them as nature’s 3D spirographs. Their cell walls are composed of silica and they can be found in many aquatic environments, from the oceans to freshwaters. Diatoms can be used to inform scientists about the environment in which they grew and how this may have been altered due to climate change. But for me, it’s just interesting to see the huge variability in their morphology.