We are perhaps au fait with the idea that the British Navy, the so-called "wooden walls of England", was at one time assembled from the totem species. We may equally recognize that oak trees were central to the construction of the Norse longboat, and the Viking's wider project of rape, pillage and civilization on the Atlantic littoral. But who would have thought that the inks used to fill da Vinci's notebooks, or to complete the line drawings and paintings of Duerer, Rembrandt and van Gogh, not to mention the score sheets of Bach, were all derived from an excrescent growth on oak trees caused by parasitic wasps? Oak galls, found especially on the Aleppo oak Quercus tinctoria, were the raw stuff of human letters for hundreds of years.
M. Cocker, "Westminster Hall from an acorn", TLS
January 13 2006, p.6
Geneticists have drawn up the most accurate tree of life yet and pinpointed what they believe to be the organism from which all other life on Earth evolved [...] at the bottom of of the evolutionary tree, dubbed the "last universal common ancestor" from which all other life sprang.
Our oldest ancestor turns out to be very similar to disease-causing bugs of today.
Guardian Weekly March 10-16, 2006, 19.