When we look at swirls, textures, symmetry and geometric patterns in nature, we know that these are very pleasing to look at, especially for examining through the eye of a photographer. However, most of the spirals, hexagons, and various dimensional patterns that we see serve a vital purpose to the bearer of these beautiful photogenic gifts.
For instance, the shape of the hexagon combs built by honeybees facilitates tight packing. The first cell a bee makes is circular, but as the cells are added, the shape changes with compression to allow for more cells in the unit.
Sea animals are often formed in pentagon shapes in order to build more strength and endure pounding of the tide and waves. The five-sided pentagon is efficient for this purpose because there are no cleavage planes. Thus, the starfish is formed as an embryo with five sides, even if it may grow more arms later in its life.
The shape of a fish is designed to move it more smoothly through the water; similarly, the aerodynamics of a bird’s wings are what holds them aloft and facilitate the efficiency of their movement through the air.
The patterns of living things such as trees and flowers also serve their own purpose. They are formed in a way that allows them to reach for sunlight, rain and nutrients to help them thrive and grow. Trees form layers into rings that aid in determining their age. When the bark of the tree is revealed, you can see how it replaces itself from within in somewhat of a “jigsaw” pattern. This pattern keeps the bark and the tree stronger.
Spiral shapes such as those of a ram’s horn can be protective of softer material underneath. The spiral shape serves the same protective purpose when you view it in the pattern of a plant.
The bilateral symmetry in we humans – our basic division down the middle – and other animals and living things serves the purpose of balance, in motion as well as in chemical and organic function.
Thus, the next time you are viewing a living thing, or when you are teaching your child how to view nature, think about construction and shape and the purpose that may be behind the formation of our amazing natural world.