Ancient Denvers - Front Range Today
Ancient Denvers-Front Range Today. Now a sea of homes, it's hard to imagine that Highlands Ranch, on the southern edge of metropolitan Denver, actually was once a ranch, much less a tropical rainforest or seashore. Rapid population growth and development have transformed the region. These changes have played out against the seemingly constant backdrop of the Front Range and its signature geologic features: the Boulder Flatirons, the Dakota Hogback, Garden of the Gods, the Continental Divide. But the entire human history of the Front Range is barely a blip in the context of geologic history. Over eons of time, astonishingly different Denvers -- mountains, deserts, seas, rainforests -- have come and gone. What will future Denvers be like millions of years from now? Because human activity is now capable of impacting the natural world on a global scale, the answer will likely depend on the choices we make today. [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); photo by Kirk R. Johnson
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