Ancient Denvers - The First Rainforest
Ancient Denvers - The First Rainforest. Time period: 64 million-years-ago in the Early Paleocene (Cenozoic). The flanks of the Rocky Mountains are covered in tropical rainforest. Tall trees and dangling vines set the scene for a stately forest floor cycad. It's been 1.4 million years since the asteroid wrecked the world of the last dinosaurs, but it has been long enough for the evolution of a surprisingly diverse forest. Large leaves and leaves with drip tips are indicative of high rainfall and warm temperatures. In the foreground, an obscure animal known only as Stylinodontine taeniodont makes its way through the undergrowth composed of round-leaved herbs and cycad seedlings. The Stylinodontine taeniodont was a shuffling creature, perhaps similar in habit to a wombat but related to the placental mammals, not the marsupials. [Text used by permission, Denver Museum of Nature & Science.]
This image is from "Ancient Denvers," an exhibition of paintings at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science depicting the Denver area as it looked during the various phases of our Earths geologic past. Using evidence from the core's rocks and sediment, and from geologic evidence gathered in other parts of the area, museum scientists, working with local artists, recreated several ancient Denver landscapes that depict Denver's amazingly varied past.
The "Ancient Denvers" paintings were funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (grant EAR 9805474). (Date of Image: 2002)
The artwork in the "Ancient Denvers" exhibit includes the combined talents of three experienced artists:
--Donna Braginetz is known for her precise renderings of dinosaurs and other ancient life. She painted the first of the "Ancient Denvers" landscapes -- a reconstruction of the site of Denver International Airport as it looked 65 million-years-ago. The painting and the public's response to it were the inspiration for expanding the "Ancient Denvers" project to include 13 additional landscapes.
--Gary Staab is a well-known sculptor and painter of prehistoric animals. His work has appeared on the cover of Natural History magazine. Gary is a former employee of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, where he created a number of sculptures for the "Prehistoric Journey" exhibition.
--Jan Vriesen is a world-renowned painter and muralist. He is best known for painting murals that form the backdrops of museum dioramas. At the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Jan's work can be seen both in the temporary "Ancient Denvers" exhibition, as well as in the Kansas Coastline diorama of the permanent "Prehistoric Journey" exhibition.
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Credit: All rights reserved, image archives, Denver Museum of Nature & Science (www.dmns.org); painting by Jan Vriesen
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