Evolution: the cake

From @alicebell via Matthew Cobb: the staff of the Oxford University Department of Earth Sciences make a Cake o’ Life:

Pretty good, but would have been even better as a pake.


  1. Posted January 2, 2012 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    That is weird and fascinating, and I hope, delicious.

    Anyone know what prompted this labour of love?

  2. Dominic
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 7:27 am | Permalink


  3. Centricci
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    I thought the cake was a lie.

    Looks delicious, though.

  4. Posted January 2, 2012 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Would the creationist version use instant cake mix?

    • keith
      Posted January 2, 2012 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      …or something along the lines of Gary Larson’s cartoon of God in the kitchen, and thinking that his creation might only be half-baked. A rather generous metaphor for creationism, I think šŸ˜‰

  5. Posted January 2, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Reminds me of W B Yeats’ cyclical history in 2000 year “gyres” (which I think links up with the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius):

    “Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity….”

    But seriously doesn’t this encourage the view of evolution as “progress”, the Great Chain of Being, with Man, proud Man, at the Top?

    And I think it was Gould who pointed out that these evolution dioramas ignore the fact that all the earlier stages keep on evolving in their own directions.

    And doesn’t it concentrate on animal evolution and ignore plant evolution (not to mention the other Kingdoms)?

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 3, 2012 at 2:40 am | Permalink

      So bake your own damn cake!


    • Posted January 5, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      Yes indeed it portrays man at the top, but you will note that this is modeled after a certain Mr Darwin and was intended rather as a nod to him. Wit is an asset that eludes many.

      I would love to see a cake that fully represented the great evolutionary ‘shrub’ so favoured by Gould and championed by my good late friend Lynn. But we humble researchers only had it in us to make a spiralling upwards, expanding upwards, 32egg and 5kg cake. Our deepest apologies for not fulfilling your dearest hopes and expectations.

      Plant (and prokaryotic) evolution is not ignored – indeed as an active researcher in the evolution of the earliest plants and protists, I would have hardly let this one pass me by. If you would care to watch the (carefully crafted) video, you will find representatives of the Archaea, the Cyanobacteria, the Red Algae and land plants.

      Hope this helps.


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