UCMP on display: Exhibits for VLSB (cont.)

What do fossils say? What are they telling us about the past?
The two display cases above the atrium on the third floor of VLSB will answer these key questions. Some think that the fossil record seems so hopelessly incomplete that no reliable picture of the ancient world can emerge. This is certainly not the case, but neither do “techno-colored” dinosaurs emerge roaring from their sedimentary tombs. The truth is that under the right circumstances, fossils can tell us a lot, but not everything, about life of the past.
The first of the third floor cases (see sketch at bottom of page) will focus on how to use the rock record to tell time; how sediments paint the ancient landscape; and how fossils give us a glimpse of ancient animals and plants. Tracks tell us whether an animal walked or ran. Bones and shells chronicle their growth. Leaves give clues to the climate of the past.
 
  animals that learned to walk on land. However, this animal lacks a backbone stiff enough to support its body out of water. Eusthenopteron shows that the ancestors of early land vertebrates probably evolved stout legs not for walking on land but for sculling along the banks of an ancient river.

Are there fossils in California?
Absolutely! As steward of California’s paleontological heritage, UCMP houses large collections of California fossils. These include leaves that tell us when coastal California developed its Mediterranean climate and when the Sierra Nevada grew to fabulous heights. UCMP is also home to mastodons and sabertooth cats such as Smilodon, California’s state fossil. The second case on the second floor will house a menagerie of California’s

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Sketch of proposed exhibit on paleontological data
Sketch of proposed exhibit on paleontological data.