The Intricate nature of natural things

My grandchildren gave me these pieces of Kina to take home and enjoy.

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I was amazed at the intricate patterns and features, both on the exterior and the interior of what was once a spiny Kina or Sea Urchin.

Taken from

Taken from “Native Animals of New Zealand” by AWB Powell

While I have seen many of these creatures on our local beaches I had never taken the time to learn more about them or to look at the beauty of their shells.

I turned to my trusty “Native Animals of New Zealand” by AWB Powell for his careful observations and information. DSCF2591 (1280x960)
He says “ The Common Sea Urchin or Sea Egg (Evechinus chloroticus) Found towards low tide in rock pools and crevices amongst seaweeds. It grows from 4 to 6 inches in diameter and in life is conspicuous with its dense covering of long dark greenish spines. When the spines are removed there is a depressed circular limy “shell” of light greenish colour, composed of a mosaic of plates, many of which have small rounded knobs, arranged in regular series.
These are the bosses upon which the movable spines are attached. Between the rows of bosses there are perforated plates through which the soft tube feet operate and these are connected with an internal water pumping system characteristic of all urchins and starfishes. The sea urchin moves about by the concerted action of the long spines and the tube feet.
The large circular opening underneath is the mouth, largely occupied by a five-sided bony structure, the jaws, and referred to as Aristotle’s-lantern, for it bears a striking resemblance to an ancient lantern. The animal of a sea-urchin is very fluid except for five bodies, like segments of an orange both in shape and colour. These are the genital glands, which in the breeding season become enormously swollen with eggs. Many people, the Maoris in particular, eat the sea urchin animal in a raw state. It is a taste I have not yet steeled myself to acquire.”

The macro feature on the camera gives a very good replication of the specialised, intricate work of this piece of nature.DSCF2582 (1280x949)
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9 thoughts on “The Intricate nature of natural things

  1. mothercat2013

    Gosh, aren’t they beautiful? I had no idea they had such intricate patterns on them – quite stunning. Your book looks well-loved and used – obviously it has been consulted many times! 🙂

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      These pieces of shell were beautifully clean and easy to observe and lo and behold so much to observe. Ha ha you have sharp eyes re the book. The first edition is dated 1947 and this is the fourth impression dated 1961. It was a Wellington Public Children’s Library book that I purchased for a few cents when it was withdrawn from their collection. We had one when I was a child and it was the “go to” source for learning more about what we had found or seen in nature with Dad and Mum. I wanted the same source for my children and I love the drawings and information to this day. AWB was the Assistant Director at the Auckland Museum and this has a sub-title “Handbook of Zoology”. It is dated but it is still in print with some improvements.

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      Generally they look less than inviting when cast on the beach but the grandchildren live close to a popular beach where kai moana is harvested. They had several broken pieces which they shared with me. The shells are simply amazing. I love my Powell although some of the language dates it. The pages in this book are soft with use and age which I love too.

  2. macmsue

    I had no idea they looked like that in close up, I have some and will have to check them out now. Excellent post, thanks for the info.


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