Louisville Magazine

AUG 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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louisvilleballet.org LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.18 51 how much we have changed our planet's future geology? Dumping nitrogen into the soil, carbon into the air, breaking oil and methane out of shale deep down and causing the earth to shake with manmade quakes. In 50 million years, geologists, if there are any, could find fossilized plastic, a signature of our time. And that's to say nothing of the planet's biology, where our influence is even more dominant. Corals that have sur- vived for so long — through four mass extinctions — are now under duress as the planet warms at an unprecedented rate. Perhaps we can't help it. We are so young, as a species. Fully modern hu- mans have only been around for tens of thousands of years. Like teenagers, our abilities outstrip our wisdom. We may be smart enough to do something, but not smart enough not to do it. On our way back up from the riverbed, Goldstein and I pass two piles of debris from local quarries, which are the only fossils visitors can take from here. "is helps take the pressure off of people who want to take a fossil, which is a lot of people," Goldstein says. Even so, these are relatively slow times for local fossils. e boom was in the earlier days of evolutionary biology. "Most of the research was done in the 19th century," Goldstein says. Before that, people would have seen fossils for years but not known how they fit into the context of life on Earth. And then, suddenly, they did, the result of a sci- entific gold rush to discover and name Paleozoic fossils. "at time period has come and gone," Goldstein says. "All of the people I know who studied these fossils are dead." His mentor and the godfather of the local fossil scene was a man named James Conkin, who died just this past December. His wife and writing partner, Barbara Conkin, is still alive but in poor health. Together, with artist Larry Steinrock, they wrote a wonderfully accessible book called Ancient Animals Locked in Louisville's Rocks. Available at the Louisville Free Public Library, it gives you all the information you need to start finding fossils in Louisville. One of the Conkins' fans and succes- sors in the art of fossil communication is Michael Popp, who has run the local

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