Maria McNamara on Seeing the Ancient World in Color
Listen now
Popular reconstructions of ancient environments, whether they be in natural history museum dioramas, in movies, or in books, present a world of color. But are those colors just fanciful renderings, perhaps based on the colors we see around us today?  Or is there evidence in the fossil record that we can use to determine the actual color of plants and animals that lived in the geological past? Maria McNamara tries to answer these questions by studying the fossil preservation of soft tissues, such as skin, muscle, and internal organs. She does this by analyzing fossils that come from sedimentary deposits that contain extraordinarily well-preserved fossils. She also does lab experiments to investigate the processes of soft tissue degradation and preservation. She is Professor of Paleontology at University College Cork in Ireland. For illustrations supporting this podcast, go to  
More Episodes
We know that most magma originates in the Earth’s mantle. As it pushes up through the many kilometers of lithosphere to the surface, it pauses in one or more magma chambers or partially melted mush zones for periods of up to a few millennia before erupting. But while we have seismic evidence and...
Published 05/06/24
Published 05/06/24
At roughly 15-25-million-year intervals since the Archean, huge volumes of lava have spewed onto the Earth’s surface. These form the large igneous provinces, which are called flood basalts when they occur on continents. As Richard Ernst explains in the podcast, the eruption of a large igneous...
Published 04/10/24