Thursday, May 1, 2014

Reconstructing Worlds

Have you ever plunged into the immensity of space and time by reading the geological treatises of Cuvier? Borne away on the wings of his genius, have you hovered over the illimitable abyss of the past as if a magician's hand were holding you aloft? ... Is not Cuvier the greatest poet of our century? Certainly Lord Byron has expressed in words some aspects of spiritual turmoil; but our immortal natural historian has reconstructed worlds from bleached bones.
~Honoré de Balzac

I heard that the Fossil Hall at the Natural History Museum in D.C. will be closed for five years while they renovate. That sounds like a long time to me, but “Five years feels short” said Siobhan Starrs, the exhibition project manager. I guess in fossil time, it's a blink of an eye...

I find fossils to be visually arresting, and at times even beautiful. What do you think?

Ammonite Fossil
photo by rosefirerising

The 47th plate ''Kunstformen der Natur'' (1904), depicting organisms classified as Aspidonia
by Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919)

Palaeolagus haydeni: ancient rabbit, an extinct genus of lagomorph, family Leporidae
White River Badlands, Wyoming, 33.9 million years ago

Daguerreotype ca. 1850, Shells and Fossils
by Louis Daguerre (1787–1851)

Liospiriferina rostrata (Brachiopod)
France, Lower Jurassic

Koneprusia brutoni - Trilobite
Djebel Oufaten Morocco

Illustration from Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary (1890—1907) Date between 1890 and 1907

Tomb of Téviec. Two skeletons of women between 25 and 35 years of age, Mesolithic. They died a violent death, with several head injuries and impacts of arrows. The tomb is protected by antlers. The grave goods include flint and bone (mainly wild boar) offerings? and funeral jewelry which is made of marine shells drilled and assembled into necklaces, bracelets and ankle rings.

Fossils for kids

1 comment:

Pop said...

I'm definitely fascinated by fossils. Not only can they be beautiful (or at least very interesting) to look at, but they also fire my imagination to consider the strength of time.

The rabbit, Ammonite, and the Liospiriferina rostrata really caught my attention. But none of them stirred me like the tomb scene, which really took me to another place and time.