The University Record, September 25, 2000

Photo stories: ‘Ancient Microworlds’ opens Sept. 29

A free, public exhibition of color photographs of fossils, ‘Ancient Microworlds,’ will be on display Sept. 29–April 30 at the Exhibit Museum of Natural History. Giraud Foster, a retired physician, archaeologist and biochemist, and his colleague Norman Barker, assistant director of the Department of Photography at the Johns Hopkins Medical School, have used high magnification photography to reveal the complex patterns of ancient life. Foster will deliver a lecture on the exhibition at 7 p.m. Sept. 29 for its opening.

Shown at right is a photograph of unidentified gastropods from Germany (age unknown). Gastropods have a spiral shell and a foot that spreads out broadly when the animal is moving forward but which can be retracted within the shell when the animal is frightened. They also have two tentacles, each ending in an eye, and a mantle that secretes the shell. The gastropods have played an important role in geologic history, voraciously eating cyanobacteria, one of the oldest life forms, and nearly causing their extinction. In keeping cyanobacteria under control, gastropods may have saved the world. Cyanobacteria produce oxygen, and our atmosphere already has 20 percent. If appreciably more oxygen had ever existed, the earth might have spontaneously combusted millions of years ago.

For more information, call (734) 764-0478. Photo and information courtesy Exhibit Museum