Before I became a Floridian, I lived in the Chicago area, which of course is home to a wide variety of cultural, artistic, and educational venues. During the decade-plus that I lived there, I had the chance to visit many of these. But there was one place that I never managed to get to – the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art. Finally, during a visit back to Chicagoland this spring, I had the chance to tour the Lizzadro. Fortunately, my traveling companion was willing to sit patiently on benches throughout the galleries while I looked at all of the exhibit cases and read the fascinating stories about the gemstones, jades, minerals, fossils, and meteorites on display. (You know that I’m all about stories, right?) Of course, I took a gazillion photos, and I’m working my way through scrapbooking them. Today I’d like to share with you a double-page spread about two exhibits that I found particularly fascinating.
A LONG, LONG TIME AGO … about 400 million years ago, a fantastic variety of marine creatures flourished in the shallow sea that covered Europe during the Early Devonian Period. As time passed, their remains were covered by muddy sediments, which eventually became shale. As the shale got pushed deeper, heat and pressure turned it into black slate. This geologic process has happened (and is still happening) all over the world. But in the area near Bundenbach, Germany, something very unusual happened. The sediment contained the right minerals to form iron pyrite, which replaced the soft body parts of these marine creatures, preserving a much more detailed glimpse into their body structure than is available through ordinary fossilization, which only preserves bony structures. I was amazed by the delicacy and grace of the pyritized starfish embedded in smooth black shale. The were a perfect example of the wonder and beauty of the natural world.
FROM A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY … or from our own solar system, bits and pieces of “space rocks” have been striking the Earth since it was formed eons ago. Most of these are classified as Stone Meteorites, but a small percentage are Iron Meteorites, and an even smaller percentage (1%) are Stony Iron Meteorites. The Lizzadro Museum is lucky to have several beautiful examples of all three types. I loved examining the texture, patterns, and colors of these meteorites. I learned that in addition to bringing bits of outer space right down to earth, meteorites can transform the Earth itself (bye bye, dinosaurs). This display case showed several rare tektites, which are formed when a large meteor impact sends melted earth rock flying into the sky, where its coalesces and rains back down to Earth as smooth-surfaced round or raindrop-shaped glassy rocks.
As with the pyritized soft bodies of the Bundenbach Fossils, there are few sites around the world where Tektites have been found. I felt very fortunate to get to see them. And just think, the whole time I lived in Chicago, they were less than an hour away! If I had visited the Lizzadro back then, I know that I would have returned again and again. I guess the moral is that you never know where beauty and wonder may be found – deep under the ocean, floating through outer space, or right down the street. So I’m going to keep my eyes open and my camera ready!
Here’s hoping you will do the same … and that you’ll share your stories, photos, and pages with us all in the pixels2Pages community.
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