Prehistoric Journey at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

All life, tasked with survival, why?

Here we see the dinosaur, extinct. He once reigned supreme. Look at the fear in his eyes as he fights for his life.

The frustration of fear:

It’s a biological development, a complexification of those same that produced the single cell organism. Earlier, there was a display that shows organic compounds can grow out of inorganic. Tube life. To think, we are glorified dirt. Why should fear exist without purpose? Why should we evolve this way? Would it have been better to not evolve?

Here lies the skull of a triceratops. Just as dead when other dinosaurs were alive as it is today. Life crawls on it. Dinosaurs were here in flesh, where I am standing now. Now they are here in image.
What a world of dense green.

Go back in time.

“Victims of the Permian Extinction.”

His head is shaped like a boomerang. What were these things? “Over 96 percent of all Permian species” went extinct. These are the creatures of imagination; probably the most disturbing. Close enough to modern organisms.

This giant sheet of stone is full of plant fossils. It is real. This is a part of the forest floor 300-million years ago. Parts of the seed fern (Pteridosperm, now extinct).

These are the creatures of dreams. Big bugs and lizard. Bugs as big as lizards. An ancient ancestor might have eaten a few, or been eaten. I get anxious at these gummy bodies and their weird shapes.

The lycopod tree looks like a lizard. Many of the creatures were unclear in being animal or plant (like a sponge). Imagine being a plant animal. If someone took your nervous system out and planted it, and you grew bark and leaves and were alive but could not move. The nervous system looks like roots.

This is the coast, where the first life on land began and people now surf. California was really creepy, but sunsets never change. Those beautiful gradients, illuminating the bodies of giant millipedes (euphoberia millipede).

Of course, this display is Kansas. Kansas had a beach. I wonder what Kansas will look like when it has a beach again.

Dragonflies also never change.

“The Dawn of Humankind”

After the dry dinosaur bones, here are the humans (Australopithecus Afarensis) (Lucy). My mind, thinking of itself now, in some way descends from this. A small, humanlike-monkeylike.

What a weird world.

We’ve become so human. These guys had to deal with the awkward teenage phase of evolution between all the conceptualizing ability of mankind and pure animal nature. What a horrible time to be able to almost make sense of things. How could one tell if one were awake or asleep?

We can still go back there. We still have our animal mind. The psychedelic experience. And when we rub our eyes at night, can we imagine?

Denver, Colorado, 250 million years ago. “Slimy Shoreline”

This stratigraphic shows the ground beneath Denver. When I was a kid, like most kids, I believed that if I dug a hole, I’d reach China. Really, I’d reach ancient Colorado. Maybe some oil. Holes are still gateways.

Back in time, to the beginning of the exhibition.

The beginning of life on Earth.

Trilobites are giant, underwater bugs.

“545 million years ago, there was an explosion of life.”

The Cambrian Explosion

Most of these creatures look like tubes of jelly. When the tubes became complex, they were plants and/or animals.

Oxygen began flooding the atmosphere 2 billion years ago. Plants began growing; prior to that there was little oxygen in the atmosphere. Life was adapted to that atmosphere. Oxygen left much life extinct.

Here is the lab experiment that demonstrates how simple chemicals can be transformed into organic molecules. “Stanley Miller and Harold Urey.” Recipe for life: carbon, hydrogen, sulfur, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus. Mix together in a warm, moist environment. Dry out occasionally. Add time and energy. Allow to combine in orderly, patterned ways.

DNA: “All living things have DNA”

Early life was under the ocean. 600 million years ago. It looks beautiful in the display. Clean and simple. Playful. Gentle. They have the sound of the ocean playing, a light effect that emulates light on the ocean floor.

Have you ever realized that we go through a rapid evolution in the womb? In water. Water is our home, yet we can’t go back after leaving. The Garden of Eden is the ocean floor. Atlantis. We know that our ideal habitat is under the water, but there’s not enough oxygen down there for us. Oxygen left many species extinct.

There’s that sound of the ocean, playing over speaker. The light looking like the bottom of the ocean floor. One of the more empty displays in the museum feels like home.

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