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Exhibit: Ancient Mysteries within the Gingers
Ann Arbor, MI 48105 United States + Google Map
March 29, 2019 @ 10:00 am - May 26, 2019 @ 4:30 pm
Bananas, gingers, and their relatives descend from an ancient lineage. Today these plants live in the tropics and subtropics, but fossils tell us they once grew as far north as Alaska and Greenland. To understand the nearly 90-million-year history of bananas and gingers, faculty from University of Michigan and Cornell University looked to fossils to untangle the relationships of these extinct plants with their living relatives and what that means for evolution and geographic distribution. Because fossils don’t have DNA, the researchers’ science uses careful comparison of plant structures instead to unlock their mysteries. The project focuses on seeds and leaves since they are the most common and most informative parts of the fossil record. A major tool for the investigations is X-ray microcomputed tomography. This gives us a way to see inside the seeds without opening or damaging them. Many of these images are visually stunning in their own right.
Dr. Selena Smith is an Assistant Professor in Earth & Environmental Sciences and Program in the Environment at University of Michigan. She has long been obsessed with fossils and plants, leading her to train in paleobotany (the study of fossil plants) and earn her PhD in Systematics and Evolution from the University of Alberta.
Dr. Chelsea Specht is the Barbara McClintock Professor in Plant Biology at Cornell University. She obtained her PhD in Biology with a focus on Developmental Genetics and Plant Evolution from New York University as part of a joint program with the New York Botanical Garden.
Dr. John Benedict is a Lecturer in the Program in the Environment at University of Michigan and came to Michigan from Guam to work on this project as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Drs. Smith and Specht. He received his BS and PhD in Plant Biology from Arizona State University.
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