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Leonardo’s Fascination with Fossils

Afternoon Lecture/Seminar

Friday, December 17, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0142
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"The skull sectioned", a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci

As a young man, Leonardo da Vinci explored the hills and valleys of Tuscany, and in 1480 he wrote about an encounter with the skeleton of a great “fish” under the earth. His discovery of what may have been a fossilized whale was followed by decades of interest in fossils and informed speculation about the history of the planet. Da Vinci went on to describe with some accuracy the sedimentation processes that built up layers of rock and led to deposits of fossils.

Join Kay Etheridge, professor of biology at Gettysburg College, as she examines how Leonardo’s fascination with geology and the history of the earth are reflected in his notebooks and his artworks—an example of the many ways in which Leonardo's art and science inform each other.

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Inside Science

This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.