The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco unveiled a new exhibit and planetarium show called Earthquake: Life on a Dynamic Planet on May 26. In addition to plate tectonics and preparedness, the exhibit covers how earth processes shape our landscapes and thus influence evolution over millions of years. That’s where the baby ostriches come in.
Earthquakes fit into the larger story of plate tectonics, a constant process that builds mountains, moves continents, and creates the landscape in which life evolves. In the case of the ostrich, it and its closest relatives — other flightless birds like the emu, cassowary, kiwi, and rhea — are scattered today all over the Southern Hemisphere, on continents that are thousands of miles apart. Yet they all evolved from a common ancestor, one that lived during a time when all the southern continents were joined together. Their distribution today is evidence that the Earth’s landmasses have moved great distances in the past—a validation of plate tectonic theory. The ostrich chicks will be on display until late 2012.