Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Walking through a prehistoric garden

As Marc noted in Monday's Vintage Dinosaur Art post, I've once again become swamped with school. My semester is winding down, which means I'm rushing to get everything done. I realized that I hadn't yet shared some photos from my Spring Break trip though, so here's a quick photo post.

Prehistoric Garden

Whenever we travel, Jennie and I always look for botanical gardens to visit. San Francisco's own, located in Golden Gate Park, is one of the best we've seen. As an added bonus, it features a "prehistoric garden" which showcases the evolutionary history of today's plants, in five sections ranging from the Devonian era to the Eocene epoch, a span of about 365 million years.

Prehistoric Garden

Prehistoric Garden

Of course, most of these plants are long gone, so instead we are presented with plants which are superficially similar to ancient plants, as in the Devonian section, or modern relatives. The didactic panels presented at each stop on this virtual time traveling trip are informative, and at the very least, they have visitors consider paleobotany for perhaps the first time. It could certainly push the evolutionary relationships of flora and fauna, but it may be a bit much to present on the limited number of panels.

Prehistoric Garden, Cycad

Prehistoric Garden

Prehistoric Garden

The Mesozoic is well-represented, with a Jurassic and Cretaceous area. The Jurassic highlights the dominance of gymnosperms, with a passing reference to the cycadeoids. The Cretaceous mainly highlights the emergence of angiosperms, or flowering plants, and is thankfully free of herky-jerky animatronic hadrosaurs nipping at the magnolias.

Prehistoric Garden

It wouldn't be complete without a monkey-puzzle tree, would it? The staple of Jurassic landscapes is represented by a surviving member of the family.

Prehistoric Garden

Of course, I had my eyes and ears on high alert for avians while we walked. Particularly charismatic were the Anna's Hummingbirds, which we saw all over San Francisco. It's a rare treat to see a hummingbird at home, so the ability to watch them perching, singing, and taking advantage of the nectar buffet was much appreciated. While not Dan Ripplinger quality by any stretch, I snagged one decent photo, too.

Anna's Hummingbird

It was also nice to see Juncos, which are only winter visitors in southern Indiana.

San Francisco Botanical Garden

The real prize, big surprise here, was the chance to observe a Red-Shouldered Hawk for a good fifteen minutes or so. My initial thought, as it usually is, was that I was seeing a young Cooper's Hawk. I was soon corrected on this by my friend Laura from the Indiana Raptor Center. I'll know a Red-Shouldered Hawk when I see one from now on, though it's rare in Indiana.

Red-shouldered Hawk

It's about seven bucks to enter the garden, but it is well worth it, especially if you won't have the opportunity to visit any of the natural areas surrounding the city.

3 comments:

  1. Looks and sounds like a great place to visit.

    I especially love the hummingbird photograph for such a great capture, and the red-shouldered hawk for its composition. Love diagonal tree trunks and branches.

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  2. Oh, this place looks amazing! Glad I can see the prehistoric gardens through your photos.

    But also, please don't insult my friends: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sharonwegner/7032926685/in/set-72157629710530657/

    ReplyDelete
  3. Botanical gardens are so under-esteemed by so many!

    ReplyDelete

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