Monday, 15 December 2014

Day 44 - Patterns in Nature

Bark on a gnarly old Chestnut at
Fountains Abbey.
Hey everyone, I was out walking at Fountains Abbey at the weekend and I saw lots of patterns that were brought to life in the frost. So today I thought I'd look at patterns in nature

Everywhere we look there are patterns in nature. We can sometimes take them for granted and hardly even acknowledge them, other times they take us by surprise and make us stop in our tracks and take a photo. Natural patterns have fascinated people for centuries. Greek philosophers such as Pythagoras studied them and tried work out order in nature.

 There are absolutely loads of places we can see patterns in nature. Why do we get such patterns? Well in the animal world it could be through natural selection and animals may have evolved this way as survival mechanisms (camouflage) or attracting a mate, mimicry (taking on the appearance of its surroundings for protection) or scaring off predators with bright colours indicating poison. In the natural world think sand dunes, waves, leaves, bark, petals, rocks and crystals.

I`ll run through a few of the more common formations now:
    Snowflake - courtesy of
  • Symmetry: some things are perfectly symmetrical - a tiger`s face (bilateral symmetry), a starfish (fivefold symmetry), a snowflake (sixfold symmetry) or a sea anemone (rotational symmetry)
  • In my Fibonacci post I explained that he discovered that there is a natural sequence called the 'Fibonacci Sequence'. This turned out to be the largest example of Patterns in Nature.
  • Tessellations: patterns caused by repeating a smaller pattern over and over, such as a honeycomb, fish scales, crystals etc.
  • Cracks: hot, dry desert land cracks and splits creating patterns, similar to the leathery hide of an elephant or rhino in a hot climate.
  • Waves and dunes:  created by winds blowing over expanses of sand and forming domes, ripples or crescents, rivers meandering through the land, like a snake, taking along the river bed sand and rocks and over time causing erosion.
    Poison Dart Frog
  • Spots and stripes are found very often for camouflage reasons - a leopard hiding in grass, a chameleon blending in with its surroundings.  Bright patterns and colour tell predators that they taste bitter or have a secret weapon inside them like poison like the poisoned dart tree frog in the picture.
  • Snowflakes: each and every snowflake is different - that never fails to amaze me!  Yet every single snowflake is completely symmetrical.
  • Self similar - this means that although the pattern isn`t exactly the same as something else of its type, it is the same as the rest of itself (if that makes sense!) i.e petals.leaves of a fern, coral etc.

Dew on a spider's web
Spider`s webs fascinate me, especially when they are covered with dew or a light frost.  They are so intricately spun, and every thread has a function.  At this time of year when the ground is covered with frost and ice the patterns are amazing, even fallen leaves on the ground and grass takes on a magical appearance when covered in tiny white crystals.

Frost brings out the lines on
fallen leaves

Frost shows up waves in a
fallen tree
Patterns in Nature are found in animals as well like Tigers, Leopards and, of course, Zebras.

Anyway here are some links to some more information:

Wikipedia - Patterns in Nature

35 Examples of Patterns in Nature

Here is the Google Images result for 'Patterns in Nature'

Google Images - Patterns in Nature

Hope you enjoyed,


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