Gallery of science tattoos


Witty, smart and beautiful body art. Readers of Carl Zimmer's blog, The Loom, sent in pictures of and stories about their science-themed tattoos. Some are just amazing bits of work, including this one that looks like a standard butterfly on first glance, but is actually the four finch species that helped Charles Darwin formulate his early ideas on evolution. The tattoo's owner writes ...

I am a developmental biologist by training. Actually, my Ph.D. thesis does not really have an evolutionary focus because I study joint regeneration in embryonic chick limb. However, I have been an evolution enthusiast and also an activist for educating public about the theory of evolution for a long time. I could not imagine a better tattoo: Darwin's finches arranged to look like a butterfly...I got it in 2009-Darwin's 200th anniversary and On The Origin of Species' 150th anniversary. I spent last few years reading and writing a lot on evolution, as well as playing the "editor-in-chief" for translating UC Berkeley's Understanding Evolution website into Turkish (Evrimi Anlamak - a completely volunteer work by our group called Hard-workers for Evolution). All in all, I am a biologist and "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution"... So, I celebrate it with four finches on my shoulder!

The Loom: Science Tattoo Emporium

(Thanks to Hannah Lucy King!)


  1. I’ve never gotten a tattoo, largely because I’ve never been able to think of a symbol I wanted permanently inked into my skin, but that one is clever, thoughtful, and beautiful, all at once.

    1. Michaepf, you captured my sentiments exactly. It’s seldom that I see tattoos that I think I could live with until death. This is one of them.

    2. actually, im only 16, but ive recently considered getting a tatoo… but the one thing i cant stand is when people get them ALL over them! Its kind of a waste of money and time just to get your body ‘decorated” one thing is good enough i think.

  2. I adore that tattoo, I just finished reading “The Beak of the Finch” for the second time and would recommend it to anyone who’s interested in evolution and Darwin’s finches.

  3. Whenever I see comments about how people can’t find a tattoo design they could stand till death all I ever think is how awful it must be to take yourself that seriously and/or have nothing meaningful enough in your life that you would risk some skin on it

  4. It would be a better tattoo if she used mockingbirds instead of finches.

    Take a look at “The Song of the Dodo” by David Quammen

  5. wow,what a surprise,I am the artist who applied that tattoo.It absolutely made my day to be able to design something involving evolution science,and I had a wonderful conversation about Darwin with the young lady who got it. thanks Boing Boing! P.S.My name is Henry,to see more artwork,look us up at Electric Ladyland tattoo in New Orleans.

    1. that is a truly, truly beautiful piece of work. in conception, design, and execution. i am moved.

  6. Anonymous @ 10:49 – Maybe I just have a better understanding of the fact that my actions have consequences over the long-term? Or perhaps you were just making a straw man of my comment and generally being an asshat.

    Either way, I think you lose.

    1. Asshat I may be and if there was some sort of contest I may well have lost for simply not realizing it was contest.

      However, I lack no understanding of consequences over the long term particularly where my actions are concerned – in fact, it is due very much to just this understanding that I have been able to see tattoos, especially those with significance to me, as being hardly anything to worry about (and I have been right for a few decades with no signs of things changing).

      If a person’s lack of tattoos is the result of not having anything important enough or a fear of the future I truly do pity that person and hope they someday both loosen up and/or find something to embrace. However, if you simply don’t want something on your skin then that’s great if you considered it for yourself and made that choice. If you don’t want a tattoo that is fine but don’t make excuses simply say you don’t want one

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