Rock art by ancient Native American artists includes images of large mammals that are now extinct, the hunting weapons that people used, and much more. We can learn valuable information about ancient lives, traditions, and landscapes from rock art images when they are fit into the context of cultures and time.
Masked faces on ancient life-sized, mummy-like figures form a long line on the rock wall of a shallow alcove in a remote part of southern Utah. Known as the Great Gallery, the 200-foot-long (61 m) panel contains around 20 eerie looking triangular-shaped bodies with small heads. many researchers consider them among the finest examples of rock art in the Americas.
The ghosts of famous artists–and of several hundred dinosaurs who perished in disastrous floods–could be roaming the landscape of Ghost Ranch in north-central New Mexico. This high desert region with steep cliffs and colorful rocks has a long and rich history. Finally visiting Ghost Ranch during a recent road trip, I was captivated by the beauty and the history of the place.
California encompasses tremendous diversity, and this includes rocks of virtually every age, reflecting a long and dynamic geologic history. I'm fond of all types of rock, but my favorites are shales, sandstones and limestones that preserve evidence of ancient plant and animal life. The older the fossils, the more interesting.
What do lava flows in Hawaii, eucalyptus trees in the Andes Mountains of Peru, beehive-shaped ovens in Nevada, and a dog’s ticket to a veterinarian office for an emergency visit all have in common? I can explain.
I’ve seen lots of sharks when I’ve been on snorkeling excursions in tropical waters. It always feels a bit creepy to see them – afterall, these animals are top predators! (Maybe I remember too many of Gary Larson’s “natural selection” cartoons....?)
Whenever I visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, I have to pry myself away from the cuttlefish, nautilus and octopus exhibits. The intelligence, curiosity, and unique body plans of these cephalopods mesmerize me. So it is a big thrill to see these creatures in their natural habitats.....
Can you think of an animal living today whose relatives, some of them gigantic, ruled the seas for hundreds of millions of years – but then became extinct along with the dinosaurs? This survivor, the chambered nautilus (Nautilus pompilius), is little changed from ancestors that flourished more than 400 million years ago.
Did you know that complex behavior and intelligence developed on two very different evolutionary branches? In a fascinating book, Peter Godfrey-Smith* writes that the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien is an octopus.
When mammoths, mastodons, ground sloths, horses and other Pleistocene megafauna became extinct in the Americas some 12,000 or so years ago, what happened to the plants those animals were eating? It’s an interesting story, especially [...]