BURPEE MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
This amazingly likelike reconstruction of a Pennsylvanian age coal forest is the centerpiece of the Burpee Museum's new Robert H. Solem wing. This display, with the rest of the wing, was officially opened to the public in 1999. During the ceremonial opening of the Solem wing, paleontologist William Shear, an expert on the Devonian and Pennsylvanian, called this coal forest "the most life like I have ever seen." Robert Bakker agreed at the Burpee's Paleofest in March of 2000, saying that the coal forest "is one of the best in the country."
Exactly what is so special about this display? For one, as Shear said, it is amazingly lifelike. The views of the world's foremost Pennsylvanian paleontologists have gone into creating this display, which measures approximately 50 by 30 feet. Tens of 30+ feet tall trees are grouped in the center of the display, creating the large fern trees of the rainy Pennsylvanian coal swamps of Illinois. There are also many smaller ferns. A giant, three foot long, millipede and a foot long dragon fly are seen hiding in the trees, and many fish, jellyfish, and spiders are seen scampering in the water. There is even a large amphibian hiding between two trees. Maybe the most amazing aspect of this display is the virtual waterfall, created by computer and sound simulation and a hologram. All of these aspects make the coal forest a very interesting display!
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