Deep Time and Devonian Fossils

One of the concepts that most propelled my interest in fossils was the idea of “deep time.” I have always been fascinated with the past and the remaining artifacts of earlier life. I have spent a good deal of time photographing what can be described as “Industrial Archaeology”, focusing on old abandoned vestiges of early technology. Years ago I pursued my interest in astronomy, focusing on earlier assumptions about the nature of the universe. The deeper we look into the farthest reaches of the universe the further back in time we are able to see. And this mind-boggling, seemingly incomprehensible time frame – deep time – can sometimes help provide some perspective on the trivialities of daily life.

Fossils seem to have a similar effect on me. Even crazier is the notion that they once were alive – as in the case of the local Devonian fossils – some 380 million years ago. Sometimes, when I crack open a piece of sandstone, for instance, and find a well delineated fossil, a former denizen of a vast inland sea that occupied this space, I can’t help but be somewhat awed by it all. I like to think that these earlier residents are now reaching across eons of time to send a message. And when you think about brachiopods, for instance, there were thousands of different types and they lived for millions and millions of years. How long have we been around?

On another note – I had the pleasure earlier in the week of meeting Dr. Susan Butts, Senior Collections Manager of the Invertebrate Paleontology Department at the Yale Peabody Museum. One of my fossil images had been displayed in a very interesting show at the Hillel Gallery in New Haven. The show Seeing Seeing was  juried by Ms Felice Frankel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The show was terrific, and it gave me an opportunity to visit the Peabody, a beautiful museum with some of the most interesting displays of fossils I have ever seen. If you ever find yourself in the New Haven vicinity do yourself a favor and drop by.

And here are a few of those brachiopods I was referring to:


Additional images can be viewed at my website: www.artmurphy.com

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