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Life: A Journey Through Time

Reknown nature photographer Frans Lanting uses images from today's world to image what Earth was like millions of years ago


Imagine if you could travel back in time to see what the earth was like when it was forming, to watch as the first creatures left the oceans to crawl upon dry land.

Thanks to the work of preeminent nature photographer Frans Lanting, imagine no longer. In his exhibit "Life: A Journey Through Time," which opens at the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology on July 6, Lanting shows us through his pictures of places from around the world.

The image of a moonrise over Mineral Terraces in Wyoming stands in for a barren early Earth, before plants and animals had overspread the planet. A photo of bacterial mats in Kamchatka, Russia, represents the primordial soup from which all life is theorized to have come. In one photo, a whisk fern grows out of black volcanic soil in Hawaii, representing the growth of plant life.

"These images are amazing," said Larry Leatherman, president of the MOST. "Not only are the photographs beautiful, but they accurately represent periods of the Earth's formation from billions of years ago. This is a unique opportunity to see our planet's history."

The idea for the project came to Lanting one spring evening as he stood at an estuary in the eastern United States.

"I saw horseshoe crabs come out of the water to spawn, an ancient ritual that goes back hundreds of millions of years," he said. "That experience made me realize that I could see the past in the present. And I wondered whether it might be possible to tell the story of life on Earth from its earliest beginnings to its present diversity by capturing images that evoke nature through time."

The exhibit presents the 4.56 billion year history of Earth through contemporary images that took Lanting several years to capture. It took an enormous amount of planning to select the locations for the photos, and even more time to figure out the vest way to shoot them.

"I emerged from this journey with a different sense of myself in time," Lanting said. "I hope this project will contribute to bridging the gap between a naturalist's appreciation for nature and a scientist's understanding of life."


* This is just one of the many new additions to the museum as a result of our "Making More of the MOST!" campaign.  To learn more about the campaign, what's planned next, what's happened up till now, how we're doing and, most importantly, how you can get involved in the fun and support the museum, follow the link to the left titled "Making More of the MOST!" or use the navigation set below.

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