|Toft - drawing by Tove Jansson|
With apologies to the late Tove Jansson, who has had no say in the matter, I've borrowed Toft and his protozoan nummulite from her perfect novel, Moominvalley in November. Little Toft reads about the ancient nummulite in a book, and then thinks about it in such a way that the creature becomes real and takes on a life of its own. Frankly, I was just looking for a blog name and thought "Toft's Nummulite" sounded good, but I suppose I could make a tenuous connection to my feeling that ideas (or ideals, if you will) are only worth anything if we work to realise them in our everyday lives. Toft also knows that it's the clarity of his thinking that makes things real.
Nummulites, as far as I can gather from the internet, are single-cell marine organisms, found in great numbers as fossils. They're still around today, but now they're very small. Pre-historic nummulites sometimes grew to 16cm across and in fact they even seem to have made it into the 2001 Guinness World Records as the largest microbe. The word 'nummulite' is from the Latin 'nummulus' - little coin. The fossils are 'lenticular', meaning lens-shaped; if that makes you think of lentils (the words have the same root), apparently Herodotus saw nummulite fossils in the stones of the Egyptian pyramids, and thought they were the remains of lentils eaten by the builders.