ely kish

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Zallinger’s Age of Reptiles is great, but Life in the Ancient Seas is 25% bigger and at least as beautiful.

In 1990, the Natural Museum of Natural History debuted the “Life in the Ancient Seas” exhibit, featuring a 150-foot mural by Canadian artist Ely Kish. The mural covers the entire Phanerozoic Eon (541 million years) and includes hundreds of marine animals.

Pachycephalosaurus, Ely Kish

The rain pours on Pachycephalosaurus, sloshes in the mud at her feet, seeps into the earth, sinks past where roots perform osmosis, glides into the groundwater, is ushered into a river, evaporates before meeting the sea, dances thousands of feet above the ground on the atmosphere’s breath, whirls into swollen clouds pregnant with new rain, and falls again and again and again for millions of years, sometimes meeting the sea, sometimes discharged by a spring, sometimes drunk, sometimes urinated, sometimes frozen, sometimes vaporized, until it pours at last from your faucet into your kettle—a 65 million-year journey to be tea.

Dimetrodon, Ely Kish

The rain tapped on the forest’s leaves and left no room for other sounds. It spattered on Diadectes’ body and dripped into the mud. The damp smell of earth was everywhere. Mold was blooming. Somewhere in the distance small amphibians were chirping. Diadectes swayed between sleepiness and anxiety. The rain made it difficult to detect predators, and the sun had never broken through the clouds to warm the body.

This was Dimetrodon’s advantage. It slid silently from the vegetation like a grotesque ghost, emerging from the green to clamp toothy jaws on Diadectes’ hind leg. With a violent jerk, Dimetrodon flipped its prey to its side. The big amphibian emitted a pained whine and batted Dimetrodon’s side with its forefeet, punching the predator, trying to push away. But Diadectes was weak, tired, unable to wrestle free from Dimetrodon’s bite.

Blood pulsed from the wounds and mixed with the puddles on the forest floor. Dimetrodon held fast, waiting patiently for Diadectes to lose all its strength. Then the predator could feed.