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David Berreby

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Coming Soon: A Guide to the Fossils That New Yorkers Live In

Posted: 11/14/10 01:21 PM ET

A group with the intriguing name Friends of the Pleistocene has started work on a guide to truly truly old New York: Their "geologic city" project aims to describe the fossils that we keep in plain sight. We know them as buildings, like Rockefeller Center (whose limestone, as I explain here, began as sea shells more than 300 million years ago). Or any old red sandstone Brooklyn building, whose "bricks" began forming in the Triassic.

It's hard for a human mind to zoom out to a timescale of hundreds of millions of years. The project's aim is to remove these cognitive blinders by showing that the world of "deep time" is all around us. By stretching our imaginations to encompass pre-human history, this "field guide" turns a same-old, same-old city into something wondrous strange. I'm looking forward to seeing more.

 

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