E.O. Wilson, founder of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, has often shared that it was his upbringing in the swamps and forests of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, along the Mobile River, that kindled his love of the natural world. Though he left Alabama for a college education at Harvard, his roots remain firmly in the delta. Growing up, little did he know that Alabama holds more biodiversity than anywhere else in North America, just a bit ahead of California. But he may have suspected it.
“The fauna of the region would excite passion in a herpetologist of any age. Forty species of snakes, one of the richest assemblages in the world, are native to the western Florida panhandle and adjacent border counties of Alabama. Over a period of a year I managed to capture most of them,” wrote E.O. Wilson in his memoir, Naturalist.
This January, the Downtown Mobile Alliance in partnership with Mobile Arts Council brought Dr. Wilson to life in a massive 60-foot mural. Local artist, Andy Scott @handmadesigns and his work were recently featured in AL.com.
“Half the people who walk by the mural proudly smile at the fact that Mobile’s native son is the world’s most gifted naturalist,” remarked Elizabeth P. Stevens, CEO and President of the Downtown Mobile Alliance to the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation when asked about her hopes for the mural. “I hope the other half get curious enough to ask who he is.”
This isn’t the first time Wilson’s likeness has been illustrated. Recently, Naturalist received a graphic novel edition, adapted by Jim Ottaviani and illustrated by C.M. Butzer with dynamic full-color illustrations and Wilson’s own prose.
The Mobile mural features Wilson’s beloved ants and his classic quote, “There is no better high than discovery.”