Last stop in Europe: The Senckenberg Museum of Natural History

August 18th, 2010

FRANKFURT, GERMANY–Isn’t that a great front yard for a Natural History Museum? Diplodocus longus strides by columnar basalt and a massive chunk of conglomerate. This is the Naturmuseum Senckenberg in downtown Frankfurt, about two blocks from my hotel. On my last day in Europe I met with Dr. Mena Schemm-Gregory, a brilliant young paleontologist who specializes in brachiopods. I was very impressed with the labor-intensive way by which she makes three-dimensional reconstructions of brachiopods embedded in matrix, including their internal structures. I also simply enjoyed the museum displays. This is a good way to end this eventful trip — a visual survey of the history of life!

The front of the Senckenberg Museum, which was built in the first decade of the 20th Century. The tall object on the left is a life-sized reconstruction of a Carboniferous seedless vascular plant. I'm cleverly using it to hide an annoying smokestack in the background!

Close-up of a massive piece of Banded Iron Formation also standing outside the museum. This one is anywhere from 3.5 to 1.9 billion years old. It represents a complex interaction of ancient microbes, seawater and the atmosphere which is still not completely understood.

Even the living plants highlight life's history. This is a branch of a ginkgo tree, a group which has an ancient lineage extending back to the Triassic. Er ist ein "Lebendes Fossil".

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