Multimedia: UAlberta in photos

In photos: Little things that mean a lot

Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous literary detective Sherlock Holmes once noted that “the little things are infinitely the most important.” It’s a belief that investigators at the University of Alberta obviously share. Whether they’re seeking to understand the tiniest forms of life, taking small steps toward major breakthroughs or influencing students in subtle but profound ways, U of A researchers and educators are proving that little things can make a big impact. (Photos: Richard Siemens)


Dig this dino

Saurornitholestes langstoni, about the size of a German Shepherd dog, made big waves as a small dinosaur when it was discovered in 2014 in Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park.

Saurornitholestes langstoni, about the size of a German Shepherd dog, made big waves as a small dinosaur when it was discovered in 2014 in Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park. Excavated by University of Alberta paleontologists, the 75-million-year-old skeleton is the most intact version of a small meat-eating dino ever found in Canada and the only complete specimen of Saurornitholestes known in the world. The dino, part of the Laboratory for Vertebrate Paleontology, is on loan to Japan’s National Museum of Science and Technology, where U of A scientists will continue to unearth its secrets.

 

Mighty mite

Meet Trouessartia geospiza, a wee feather mite that keeps company with the large ground finch, a bird that Charles Darwin studied as he developed his theory of evolution via natural selection.

Meet Trouessartia geospiza, a wee feather mite that keeps company with the large ground finch, a bird that Charles Darwin studied as he developed his theory of evolution via natural selection. Although Darwin’s finches did diversify, a study co-written by a U of A researcher showed that the mites didn’t seem to evolve with their hosts. Rather, the finches share a similar set of mites that keep them clean and healthy by licking old oils, fungi and bacteria from their wings.

 

On the button

These tiny buttons tiptoeing up the back of a delicate Jane Austen-era gown (circa 1815) in the U of A’s Clothing and Textiles Collection look ordinary enough, but they made a big difference to the wearer, who no longer had to be laced or pinned into her finery.

Tiny buttons tiptoeing up the back of a delicate Jane Austen-era gown (circa 1815) in the Clothing and Textiles Collection look ordinary enough, but they made a big difference to the wearer, who no longer had to be laced or pinned into her finery. These circular wire, fabric-wrapped and painstakingly hand-stitched fasteners were a marked improvement in how people kept the clothes on their backs.

 

Mapping out survival

Soft silk squares like this handkerchief map helped keep pilots and prisoners of war alive during the Second World War.

Soft silk squares like this handkerchief map helped pilots and prisoners of war stay alive during the Second World War. Shot down or captured in enemy territory, the soldier could safely hide and use the durable, portable map without alerting enemies to the crinkle of a paper guide. This map in the Clothing and Textiles Collection shows Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Holland and Czechoslovakia.

 

Vanity vessel

Decorated by an artist’s fine hand 2,500 years ago, this tiny red and black clay vessel in the U of A’s W.G. Hardy Collection of Ancient Near Eastern and Classical Antiquities sports a regal sphinx and once held perfumed oil.

Decorated by an artist’s fine hand 2,500 years ago, this tiny red and black clay vessel in the W.G. Hardy Collection of Ancient Near Eastern and Classical Antiquities sports a regal sphinx and once held perfumed oil. Made by the Greeks as a widely exported luxury commodity, this figural pottery reflects how Greek culture was intermingling with Mediterranean neighbours through trade, while at the same time declaring a distinct identity.

 

Small change

This bronze coin of ancient Bactria (modern Afghanistan), from the  W.G. Hardy Collection of Ancient Near Eastern and Classical Antiquities, dates to 200–185 BCE. One side sports the proud head of an Indian elephant; the flip side bears a winged staff and two snakes, a Greek religious symbol.

This bronze coin of ancient Bactria (modern Afghanistan), from the W.G. Hardy Collection of Ancient Near Eastern and Classical Antiquities, dates to 200–185 BCE. One side sports the proud head of an Indian elephant; the flip side bears a winged staff and two snakes, a Greek religious symbol. As much a token of power as a form of currency, the coinage reflects the cultural legacy of Alexander the Great’s conquests in a region that lay at the interface of the Greek world and the kingdoms of ancient India.

 

Let there be light

A common household item, humble pottery lamps like this one, which burned locally produced olive oil, provided many hours of light for citizens of Carthage in the fifth to sixth century CE (modern-day Tunisia).

Humble pottery lamps like this one, which burned locally produced olive oil, provided many hours of light for citizens of Carthage (modern-day Tunisia) in the fifth to sixth century CE. Made using plaster moulds, these compact, teardrop-shaped lamps were stamped with designs reflecting tastes of the day. This example from the W.G. Hardy Collection of Ancient Near Eastern and Classical Antiquities features an African gazelle, reflecting the popularity of natural scenes and motifs.

 

Life jacket

More than just a cheerful robe for a treasured male heir, this little coat from China’s Qing Dynasty (1875–1900) was fashioned to ward off evil spirits in late imperial China, when infant mortality was a constant threat.

More than just a cheerful robe for a treasured male heir, this little coat from China’s Qing Dynasty (1875–1900) was fashioned to ward off evil spirits in late imperial China, when infant mortality was a constant threat. Made of red silk satin and embroidered with a large flower basket that symbolized wealth and abundance, this garment would have been worn by the baby at a family celebration. This and other pieces can be viewed at The Mactaggart Art Collection: Beyond the Lens, a new exhibition opening March 18 and running until July 31 at the University of Alberta Museums Galleries at Enterprise Square.