Pratt Museum showcases millions of years with ‘The Living Tertiary’

Where can you go to see millions of years, all in one room?

On Feb. 14, the Pratt Museum held a reception for its newest exhibit “The Living Tertiary,” curated by geophysicist Geoff Coble. Fossils featuring millions of years of Homer’s natural history are the focus. Coble wants to change people’s perspective on fossils, from a rock that is gray and lifeless to a vibrant narrative of a past world.

The exhibit weaves an epic story that links past and present. Next to each fossilized plant or animal specimen, many of which come from the Pratt’s own collection, stands an example of a modern counterpart. Here, visitors can see just how much the Homer area has changed in the last six million years.

You’ll see fossils of Metasequoia, a tree that is very similar to the giant redwoods in California, but a native to China. This suggests that millions of years ago the climate in Homer used to look more like central China. 

The exhibit also showcases what history is still alive and thriving in Homer, like a fossilized version of Equisetum (horsetail), a plant many gardeners in Homer are all too familiar with. Along the same lines, there is a beautiful skeleton of a perch right next to a tank of its living contemporary, the Alaskan Blackfish. 

Coble strives to show the vast differences between Homer’s past and current climate. 

“By looking at the past, we can see our environment is changing in the future,” Coble says. “From a geological perspective, things should be relatively similar today to what they were a few million years ago. But we’re seeing very large changes in our environment.”

Zooming out from just a few species of plants or animals, the exhibit also features a video of the bluffs above the Homer beach, showing where the different layers of history are visible, and a model demonstrating the different forces and processes that shaped Homer’s geography.  

Scott Bartlett, director of exhibits, says the exhibit is a way for the Pratt to go back to the natural history roots on which it was founded. 

“This exhibit brings natural history out of the past and into real life. And having a specialist here like Geoff is a very wonderful thing,” says Bartlett.  

“The Living Tertiary” runs through March at the Pratt Museum.  In addition, the Pratt is hosting a Fossil Day at the museum from 1-3 p.m. Saturday. Members of the public can bring their fossils in to have Coble and Homer’s “Boneman” Lee Post identify them.

Aryn Young is a freelance writer who recently relocated to Homer from Texas.

The Living Tertiary

Curated by geophysicist Geoff Coble


Runs through March


At Pratt Museum

In Addition:

Fossil Day will be from 1-3 p.m. Saturday

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