BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Famed biologist and public intellectual E.O. Wilson, a Birmingham native, died on Sunday, and in the days following his passing, another notable Alabama scientist, UAB space archaeologist Sarah Parcak, is remembering Wilson as “charming, supportive, kind and funny.”
It isn’t those kind words, though, that have Parcak’s significant Twitter following pondering Wilson’s rear end: It’s the story of the “butt prints.”
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“Our rear ends are preserved for posteriority (!) side by side at the Birmingham International Airport,” Parcak explained on the social media site. “Here’s the story.”
Aside from her world-renowned scientific work, Parcak is also known for her sometimes controversial presence on Twitter, where she has nearly 80,000 followers.
“I got an email years ago (our son was a year old I think) from artist Jan Jander, telling me about the project,” Parcak tweeted. “Essentially, he was tapping 16 ‘famous’ Alabamians to give their butt prints in cement seats that would be installed at the airport. It…was not a spam request.”
Parcak agreed to the request, as did Alabamians including Wilson, author John Green, singer Taylor Hicks, and even the “Fifth Little Girl,” Sarah Collins Rudolph, who survived the racial terror bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.
The artist who created the “benchscapes,” Jan Jander, even allowed Parcak to choose who would share her particular bench.
“My goodness! A serious choice,” Parcak said on Twitter. “Frank Stitt? John Green? Taylor Hicks? Nope… I had to pick EO Wilson, the other scientist.”
In the end, Parcak and the other Alabamians, including Wilson, sat on cement to produce the finished works of art, which are still located in the Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport’s arrivals section.
“I’d met Prof. Wilson a few times, and we always had a lovely chat,” Parcak said. “I’ve been told my seat is comfortable. Read into that what you will. RIP wonderful human.”
Below is the full list of Alabamians who participated in the “benchscapes” project.
- Daniel Alarcon
- John Green
- Bobby Allison
- Shelby Lynne
- Taylor Hicks
- Homer Hickam
- Alan Hunter
- John Mitchell, Jr.
- Frank Fleming
- Frank Stitt
- Sarah Parcak
- Edward O. Wilson
- Bryan Kirkland
- Vonetta Flowers
- Sarah Collins Rudolph
- Warren St. John