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HomeContentsThemes > Geology


661.01   Introduction to geology
Photography and geological change
661.02   Charles Lyell on Niagara Falls (1845)
Volcanic eruptions
661.03   Volcanoes and volcanic eruptions
661.04   Giorgio Sommer: Eruption of Vesuvius (1872)
661.05   Giorgio Sommer: Pompeii
661.06   Giorgio Sommer: The ash-covered remains from Pompeii
Geological features
661.07   Geysers
661.08   Glaciers
661.09   Fjords
661.10   Rock formations
661.11   Utah: Devil's Slide
661.12   California: Yosemite Valley
661.13   Philip Henry Delamotte: Models of Extinct Animals (1855)
661.14   Richebourg: Carte geologique detaillee de la France, Feuille 48.- Paris (1879)
661.15   Joseph Burr Tyrrell: Expedition to the barren lands (1893)
Palaeontology and evolution
661.16   Evolution and the Biblical flood
This theme includes example sections and will be revised and added to as we proceed. Suggestions for additions, improvements and the correction of factual errors are always appreciated. 
Status: Collect > Document > Analyse > Improve
661.01   Scientific >  Introduction to geology 
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Photography and geological change 
661.02   Scientific >  Charles Lyell on Niagara Falls (1845) 
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The Father Louis Hennepin "discovered" and described Niagara Falls in 1677 although there are several other claims for this honor. Geologist visited Niagara Falls[1] and appreciated that photographic evidence taken earlier would be useful for comparative analysis as contemporary texts indicated:
Sir C. Lyell, in his recently published Travels, observes : "The Falls of Niagara, though continually in motion, have all the effects of a fixed and unvarying feature in the landscape; and, however strange it may seem, some Daguerreotype representations have been executed with no small success. They not only record the form of the rocks and the islands, but even the leading features of the cataract, and the shape of the rising clouds of spray. I have often wished that Father Hennessin[2] could have taken one of these portraits, and bequeathed it to the geologists of our times. It would have afforded us no slight aid in our speculations respecting the comparative states of the ravine in the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries." The first series of Views of the Falls taken by the Daguerreotype[3], was executed by J. E. Myall[4], (Prof. High School,) in September, 1846.[5]
Volcanic eruptions 
661.03   Scientific >  Volcanoes and volcanic eruptions 
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661.04   Scientific >  Giorgio Sommer: Eruption of Vesuvius (1872) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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The German-born[6] Italian photographer, Giorgio Sommer (1834-1914) had been operating a photographic studio in Naples, Italy since 1857 making photographs for the tourist trade with subjects including the archaeological remains at Pompei.[7] On 26th April 1872 there was a significant eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and Sommer photographed it.
David Forbes wrote an article on "The Eruption of Vesuvius in 1872" that was published in Nature the following year:
That, in these days of rapid intercourse, the re-appearance of volcanic phenomena on the large scale in any part of the earth’s surface should awaken a far more than mere local interest, was well illustrated in the case of the late great outbreak of Mount Vesuvius, during the continuance of which the telegraphic bulletins received from the fiery mountain became the subject of general inquiry and discussion in all parts of the civilised world; and even now that the eruption has entirely subsided, the publication of a translation by Mr. Mallet, of the report of the well-known Italian savant, Professor Palmieri, entitled “Incendio Vesuviano del 26 Aprile, 1872,” will be welcomed as a valuable contribution to English scientific literature quite independently of its being a book likely to secure numerous readers amongst the non-scientific public also.[8][9]
The great Victorian explorer Charles Montagu Doughty was a witness to the 1872 eruption and described it in his classic work Travels in Arabia Deserta (1888).[10] 
661.05   Scientific >  Giorgio Sommer: Pompeii 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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661.06   Scientific >  Giorgio Sommer: The ash-covered remains from Pompeii 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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When Mt. Vesuvius erupted in AD 79 it buried the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and left ash-covered impressions of corpses of those caught in the hydrothermal pyroclastic flows and killed either by asphyxiation or possibly heat shock.[11] By 2003 around 1,044 impressions of bodies had been recovered from Pompeii[12] and in the nineteenth century Giorgio Sommer, based in nearby Naples, had photographed some of these archaeological remains
Geological features 
661.07   Scientific >  Geysers 
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661.08   Scientific >  Glaciers 
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Charles Kingsley in Madam How and Lady Why: or, First lessons in earth lore for children (1888) wrote:
You have seen drawings of such glaciers in Captain Cook's Voyages; and you may see photographs of Swiss glaciers in any good London print-shop; and therefore you have seen almost as much about them as I have seen, and may judge foi yourself how you would like to live where it is always winter.[13]
661.09   Scientific >  Fjords 
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661.10   Scientific >  Rock formations 
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661.11   Scientific >  Utah: Devil's Slide 
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The Devil's Slide is a geological formation of two vertical forty foot high limestone ridges that come down the side of Cinnabar Mountain in Weber Canyon, Utah.[14] The formation has been photographed by A.J. Russell (1864-1869)[15], Carleton E. Watkins (1873-1874). [16], Frank Jay Haynes (1853-1921), William Henry Jackson (1843-1942).[17] and Charles Roscoe Savage.[18] 
661.12   Scientific >  California: Yosemite Valley 
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References to the valley by early non-native travelers started to appear in the 1830s but it had been known to the Native American Paiute-Miwok tribes of the Southern Sierras long before that. When the California Gold Rush started in 1848 the numbers of miners rapidly increased leading to tensions that led to the Mariposa Indian War. On 27 March 1851 a battalion of soldiers entered the valley and after this its wonders spread to the general populace. In 1859 Charles Leander Weed (1824-1903) took what are thought to be the first daguerreotypes of the valley.[19]  
Charles Leander Weed 
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Carleton Eugene Watkins (1829-1916) took a large number of glass plates of the Yosemite Valley and these have become icons for how the valley is seen today.[20] On 30 June 1864 signed an Act of Congress ceding the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia to the State of California.
...the said State shall accept this grant upon the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation; shall be inalienable for all time;...[21]
Isaiah West Taber[22] took over the photographic studio of Watkins in 1876 and continued to reprint from the negatives of Watkins.  
Carleton Eugene Watkins 
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Eadweard Muybridge best remembered for his studies of animal and human locomotion, took majestic views of Yosemite Valley.  
Eadweard Muybridge: Yosemite 
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One of the earliest photographically illustrated travel books was the 1875 Treasure Spots of the World: A selection of the chief beauties and wonders of nature and art[23] by Walter Bentley Woodbury and plate 18 was On the Merced, Yosemite valley, California by Thomas Houseworth.  
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George Fiske (1835-1918)[24] was Yosemite’s first resident photographer and learnt his photographic skills from Charles Leander Weed. He worked in the Yosemite Valley between the time of Watkins and later masters such as Ansel Adams. His work is not as well known as it should be as fires in 1904 and 1943 destroyed most of it.  
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Every feature of Yosemite has been photographed intensively for well over a hundred years so the changes at the waterfalls of Bridalveil Falls, Nevada Falls and Vernal Falls are well documented. The steep cliffs of El Capitan, so often festooned with climbers, Half Dome and the vista points of Inspiration Point and Glacier Point are on the itineraries of tourists. From the redwoods of Mariposa Grove to the Yosemite Valley and the Merced River each point has been visited time and time again by tourists and large format photographers following the visual styles of Ansel Adams and others.  
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Picture postcards of each vantage point, lake and cliff will have been sold in vast numbers over the years and so the sights are stored within popular memory and imagination and yet each fails to encompass the reality.  
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That any photography can do justice to the grandeur of Yosemite has at times been questioned as it was in the article "A Day in the Yosemite with a Kodak" by Samuel Douglas Dodge published in the Bay State Monthly in 1890:
It seems almost ridiculous to point a Kodak at those scenes, to which no painting by word or pen or color can do the least justice; and yet as the stage rattles up to the hotel, and the tired and dusty travellers dismount, the little leather cases containing the cameras of the amateur photographers have become so omnipresent that a porter would think something was missing did he not have one slung from either shoulder as he leads the guest to the office. And when, after a rest from the fatigues of the journey, the tourist sets out from the hotel, armed with his instrument, to register, if may be, a few of the many glorious scenes about him, that those at home may enjoy them, there comes a feeling of utter helplessness at the prospect before him. It is like going out to battle with a toy pistol. Even the stately summit of El Capitan seems to look down in scorn at the presuming amateur as he points his camera at his polished side, as if to rebuke him for his effort to catch even a part of his stately grandeur; and the "Spirit of the Evil Wind" at Pohono or Bridal Veil Falls seems to roar more loudly, as if in anger, as it falls like an avalanche of snow over its inaccessible summit. But we apologize to our conscience, that it is only to record the incidents of our trip and to catch such bits as may serve in the future to remind us of our visit, and not that we expect in the remotest degree to portray the scene before us.[25]
Despite this warning many photographers, including most notably Ansel Adams,[26] have continued to photograph every rock face, pool, tree and blade of grass within the Yosemite Valley. 
661.13   Scientific >  Philip Henry Delamotte: Models of Extinct Animals (1855) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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Guide books to the Crystal Palace exhibition provided lengthy description of the geological exhibits, landscapes and models of extinct species display. One begins this section with:
Taking our stand on the Grand Plateau, fifty feet in width, to which we have arrived, we obtain a general view of a tract of several acres of ground occupied by Geological illustrations, and including a number of islands already partly covered by strange figures, the restored forms of various animals which for many ages have ceased to exist as living tribes.[27]
Philip Henry Delamotte, who photographed the construction of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham (Great Britain) from 1851-1854, also photographed the models of extinct species. 
661.14   Scientific >  Richebourg: Carte geologique detaillee de la France, Feuille 48.- Paris (1879) 
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Photographs from the Carte géologique détaillée de la France (1879) 
661.15   Scientific >  Joseph Burr Tyrrell: Expedition to the barren lands (1893) 
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Joseph Burr Tyrrell in his Report on the Doobaunt, Kazan and Ferguson Rivers, the north-west coast of Hudson Bay, and on two overland routes from Hudson Bay to Lake Winnipeg (1897) wrote:
"I beg to present a report on the geology and general resources of the region explored in 1893 and 1894, embraced in an area of about 200,000 square miles, lying north of the 59th parallel of latitude, and west of Hudson Bay. The explorations include the examination and survey of Telzoa or Doobaunt, Kazan, Ferguson, Chipman and Cochrane Rivers, Chesterfield Inlet, and the east coast of Hudson Bay from Chesterfield Inlet to Churchill, and two overland routes, traveled in winter with dog-teams and sledges, between Churchill and Nelson Rivers"[28]
Palaeontology and evolution 
661.16   Scientific >  Evolution and the Biblical flood 
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The nineteenth century was an age of technological progress and intellectual rigour that used scientific evidence to confront religious doctrine. This was the age of Charles Darwin (1809-1882) and Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913). Their expeditions and analysis of evidence from the natural world provided the foundation for evolutionary biology. When On the Origin of Species was published in 1859 it questioned beliefs in the stability of a God-given natural order. Investigations of fossil beds were uncovered bones of life forms that no longer existed on Earth and although the Biblical Flood could be used the reason it was becoming increasingly difficult to support. By 1855 at the Crystal Palace Exhibition large models of extinct animals were placed in the grounds and these were photographed by Philip Henry Delamotte.[29] At this point it had only been about 16 years since the announcement of photography by Daguerre and photography was being used to provide scientific evidence to support hypotheses that would fundamentally alter how humans understood time and biology. A photograph by an unidentified photographer Two workmen in the gravel pit near the Seminary of St Acheul, 27 April 1859. The standing workman is pointing to the in situ flint[30] taken on 27 April 1859 is critical in our understanding of human evolution. Within the section of a gravel pit there and human-made lithic tools beneath layers of bones for extinct animals. The new science of photography was being harnessed to reassess everything that had previously been thought about the development of humans. 

  1. Λ Charles Lyell, 1845, Travels in North America, in the years 1841-2: with Geological Observations on The United States, Canada and Nova Scotia, Two Volumes (London: John Murray), chap. XIX, p. 92 
  2. Λ "Father Hennessin" is incorrect and it should be "Father Hennepin". 
  3. Λ J.E. Mayall certainly displayed daguerreotypes of Nigara Falls but it is uncertain who took them. For Mayall having examples - Walter Thornbury, 1862, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A. Founded on Letters and Papers Furnished by his Friends and Fellow Academicians, (London: Hurst and Blackett), vol. II, pp. 259-264 
  4. Λ "J. E. Myall" (Prof. High School) is incorrect and it should read "J.E. Mayall" the noted London-based daguerreotypist. 
  5. Λ Sharpe's London Journal, vol. X, p. 50 adds the following with an incorrect spelling of Father Hennepin. 
  6. Λ Although generally held to be an Italian photographer he was born at Frankfurt am Main in Germany ( 2 September 1834) and moved to Italy in the 1850s. 
  7. Λ M. Miraglia (ed.), M. Piantanida, U. Pohlmann & D. Siegert, 1992, Giorgio Sommer in Italien. Fotografien 1857-1888, (Heidelberg: Edition Braus) [Exhibition catalogue]; D. Palazzoli, 1981, Giorgio Sommer fotografo a Napoli, (Milano: Electa) 
  8. Λ David Forbes, 6 February 1873, "The Eruption of Vesuvius in 1872" Nature, vol. 7, pp. 259-261 
  9. Λ Luigi Palmieri, 1873, The Eruption of Vesuvius in 1872, (London: Asher & Co.)
    (Online accessed: 26 August 2013) 
  10. Λ Charles Montagu Doughty, 1888, Travels in Arabia Deserta, (Cambridge University Press), vol. 1, pp. 420-421 
  11. Λ Maria Cristina Valsecchi, 2 November 2010, "Pompeiians Flash-Heated to Death—'No Time to Suffocate' Victims' lifelike poses among clues that ash was not the key killer, study says." - National Geographic News
    (Accessed: 26 August 2013) 
  12. Λ Mount Vesuvius - Wikipedia
    (Accessed: 25 August 2013) 
  13. Λ Charles Kingsley, 1888, Madam How and Lady Why: or, First lessons in earth lore for children, (Macmillan), p. 103 
  14. Λ Carl Ege, April 2003, "Nature's version of a playground slide—Devils Slide, Morgan County, Utah". Survey Notes (Utah Geological Survey) 35 (2): p. 12. 
  15. Λ Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, A.J. Russell, "Devils Slide, Weber Canon", Call Number: ZZc10 864un, Image ID Number: 1078413 
  16. Λ J. Paul Getty Museum, Carleton E. Watkins, "The Devil's Slide, Utah", 85.XM.11.18. 
  17. Λ Library of Congress, William Henry Jackson,"The Devil's Slide, Cinnabar Mountain", stereocard, Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-stereo-1s01178 (digital file from original photo, front), Call Number: LOT 11959-22, no. 2 [item] [P&P] 
  18. Λ Private collection of Joe Bauman. 
  19. Λ Peter Palmquist, 1979, ‘California's Peripatetic Photographer, Charles Leander Weed‘, California History, vol. 58, no. 3 
  20. Λ Weston Naef, 2009, Carleton Watkins in Yosemite, (J. Paul Getty Museum) 
  21. Λ  38th United States Congress, Session 1, 1864 ceded Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia to the State of California.
    Yosemite National Park was established 1 October 1890 and as there was no National Parks Service at the time it was under the jurisdiction of the United States Army's Troop I of the 4th Cavalry from 19 May 1891. 
  22. Λ Linda Bonnett & Wayne Bonnett, 2004, Taber, a photographic legacy, 1870-1900, (CA: Sausalito: Windgate Press) 
  23. Λ Paul Hickman & Terence Pitts, 1980, George Fiske: Yosemite Photographer, (Flagstaff: Northland Press)
    The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley has 68 examples of his work: Collection Number: BANC PIC 19xx.066--ALB 
  24. Λ Walter Bentley Woodbury (ed.), 1875, Treasure spots of the world: A selection of the chief beauties and wonders of nature and art, (London: London: Ward, Lock, and Tyler)
    The plates in this book were printed using the Woodburytype process. 
  25. Λ Samuel Douglas Dodge, December 1890, "A Day in the Yosemite with a Kodak", Bay State Monthly, vol. III, no. 4, p. 460 
  26. Λ AThere are vast numbers of books and calendars including photographs by Ansel Adams including - Ansel Adams, 1948, Yosemite and the High Sierra, (Boston); Ansel Adams, 1950, My Camera in Yosemite Valley, (Yosemite, CA); Ansel Adams & Nancy Newhall, 1959, Yosemite Valley, (San Francisco; 5 Associates)
    nsel Adams also photographed his children within the Yosemite Valley - Ansel & Virginia Adams, 1941, Michael and Anne in Yosemite Valley, (New York: Studio Publications). 
  27. Λ Samuel Phillips, 1857, Guide to the Crystal Palace and Park, p. 189 
  28. Λ J.B. Tyrrell, 1897, Report on the Doobaunt, Kazan and Ferguson Rivers, the north-west coast of Hudson Bay, and on two overland routes from Hudson Bay to Lake Winnipeg, (Ottawa: S. E. Dawson), 11/2 
  29. Λ For the Philip Henry Delamotte photographs of the models of extinct animals - British Library, Shelfmark: Tab.442.a.5
    For a contemporary description of the extinct animals - Samuel Phillips, 1857, Guide to the Crystal Palace and Park, p. 189-197 
  30. Λ  Unidentified photographer/creatro, "Two workmen in the gravel pit near the Seminary of St Acheul, 27 April 1859. The standing workman is pointing to the in situ flint", 1859, 27 April, Albumen print, Bibliothèques d'Amiens Métropole


HomeContents > Further research

General reading 
George, H.B., 1866, The Oberland and its Glaciers: Explored and Illustrated with Ice-Axe and Camera, (London: Alfred W. Bennett) [Δ
Morton, Vanda, 1987, Oxford Rebels: The Life and Friends of Nevil Story Maskelyne 1823-1911: Pioneer Oxford Scientist, Photographer and Politician, (NY: Alan Sutton) [Δ
Tyrrell, J. Burr, 1897, Report on the Doobaunt, Kazan and Ferguson Rivers, the north-west coast of Hudson Bay, and on two overland routes from Hudson Bay to Lake Winnipeg, (Ottawa: S. E. Dawson) [Δ
Warren, John, 1854, Remarks on some Fossil Impressions in the Sandstone Rocks of Connecticut River, (Boston: Ticknor and Fields) [The second American book containing a photograph. Mr. Silisbee photographed a sandstone slab with fossil remains and a folded salt print is included in the book.] [Δ
Readings on, or by, individual photographers 
Sebastian Finsterwalder 
Finsterwalder, S., 1890, ‘Die Photogrammetrie in den italienischen Hochalpen‘, Mittheilungen des Deutschen und Österreichischen Alpenvereins, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 6-9 [Δ
Finsterwalder, S., 1928, ‘Geleitworte zur Karte des Gepatschferners‘, Zeitschrift für Gletscherkunde, vol. 16, pp. 20-41 [Δ
Finsterwalder, S. & Muret, E., 1901, ‘Les variations périodiques des glaciers. VIme Rapport, 1900‘, Extrait des Archives des Sciences physiques et naturelles, vol. 106/4, no. 12, pp. 118-131 [Δ
Finsterwalder, S. & Muret, E., 1902, ‘Les variations périodiques des glaciers. VIIme Rapport, 1901‘, Extrait des Archives des Sciences physiques et naturelles, vol. 107/4, no. 14, pp. 282-302 [Δ
Finsterwalder, S. & Muret, E., 1903, ‘Les variations périodiques des glaciers. VIIIme Rapport, 1902‘, Extrait des Archives des Sciences physiques et naturelles, vol. 108/4, no. 15, pp. 661-677 [Δ
Levett Landen Boscawen Ibbetson 
1840, September, ‘Fossils, Engraved on a Daguerreotype Plate‘, Westminster Review, vol. 24 [Δ
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan - 

HomeContentsPhotographers > Photographers worth investigating

Tempest Anderson  (1846-1913) • William Jerome Harrison  (1845-1908) • Levett Landen Boscawen Ibbetson  (1799-1869) • A.P. Low  (1861-1942) • Vittorio Sella  (1859-1943)
HomeThemesScientific > Geology 
A wider gazeRelated topics 
Volcanic eruptions 

HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > Geology

Please submit suggestions for Online Exhibitions that will enhance this theme.
Alan -

ThumbnailScientific: 19th Century Geology and Palaeontology 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
Released (January 13, 2011)

HomeVisual indexes > Geology

Please submit suggestions for Visual Indexes to enhance this theme.
Alan -

ThumbnailCharles Lyell 
ThumbnailA. Pettitt: Bowder Stone (1868) 
ThumbnailF. Jay Haynes: Yellowstone 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailGeorge Washington Wilson: Fingal's Cave, Staffa (1875) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailGiorgio Sommer: Italy: Mt. Etna 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailHannes Grobe: Fluorescent minerals 
ThumbnailRichebourg: Carte géologique détaillée de la France, Feuille 48.- Paris 
ThumbnailUnidentified photographer: The Needles, Isle of Wight 
ThumbnailWilliam Henry Jackson: 104. Rocks near Platte Canyon 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailWilliam Henry Jackson: The Devil's Slide, Cinnabar Mountain 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailAlex Lindahl - Unidentified photographer 
ThumbnailCarleton E. Watkins - Benjamin Brecknell Turner 
ThumbnailScientific: Geology: Geysers 
ThumbnailScientific: Geology: Glaciers 
ThumbnailScientific: Geology: Rock formations 
ThumbnailScientific: Geology: Volcanoes and volcanic eruptions 
ThumbnailScientific: Palaentology 
   Still thinking about these... 
ThumbnailEvolution vs. The Biblical Flood 
ThumbnailLantern slides: Geology 
Refreshed: 13 August 2014, 09:53
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