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Greenwich's Bruce Museum Spotlights Fossils In New Exhibit

Priscacara serrata, an extinct fish species related to modern perch.
Priscacara serrata, an extinct fish species related to modern perch. Photo Credit: Cynthia Ehlinger / Bruce Museum

GREENWICH, Conn. -- The Bruce Museum in Greenwich will open a new exhbit, "Secrets of Fossil Lake," on Saturday.

Fifty-two million years ago, subtropical forests stretched across what is now the United States, inhabited by a stunning array of animals ranging from miniature three-toed horses to 14-foot-long primitive crocodilians. These species died out long ago, but their remains are preserved in astonishing detail in a rich trove of fossils collected from the Fossil Lake site in present-day Wyoming.

“Fossil Lake is arguably the most important paleontological site in the world,” said Daniel Ksepka, the curator of the new exhibition and an expert on fossil birds. “Nowhere else can we observe such an abundance and quality of fossils from the beginning of the Age of Mammals. From the paper-thin leaves of an ancient sassafras tree to the delicate feathers of a tiny bird, the detail of preservation is beyond exceptional.”

Visitors to the exhibition will see fossils from aquatic animals that lived in the lake itself, terrestrial animals that fossilized when chance events washed them in to the waters, and the leaves, fruits, and branches of the forests that grew alongside. They will learn how scientists painstakingly remove the rock matrix to expose a new fossil specimen, and how paleontologists piece together the lifestyles of extinct species from fossil evidence.

The exhibition is organized to provide an overview of the aquatic ecosystem within Fossil Lake and the terrestrial ecosystem along its shores.

Public programming complementing the exhibition will include world-renowned paleontologists. Three science lectures include:

  • Early Birds: Extinct Species from Fossil Lake, by Ksepka, Bruce Museum, on Friday.
  • The Subtlety of Snakes and a Quarter-Billion Years of Lizard Evolution, by Jack Conrad, New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, on Tuesday, Jan. 12.
  • The Lost World of Fossil Lake: Snapshots from Deep Time, by Lance Grande, Field Museum of Natural HIstory, on Tuesday, March 15.
The Bruce Museum is at 1 Museum Drive. For more information, call 203-869-0376 or visit https://brucemuseum.org/ .

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