The second panel from the “Age of Reptiles” features Permian Texas from 280 million years ago. Red cliffs of striped sedimentary rock deposited by ancient seas tower in the background. A Seymouria navigates a hazardous path between a predatory fin-backed Dimetrodon and its lunch, the plant-eating, sail-finned Edaphosaurus. Scale trees such as Sigillaria and Lepidodendron dot the landscape. Modern researchers have found no evidence that Dimetrodon actually ate Edaphosaurus.
This scene takes place during the Late Jurassic, 150 million years ago. The third panel from the “Age of Reptiles” is dominated by the sauropod Brontosaurus. As the Brontosaurus arches its long neck munching on water plants, the small pterosaur Rhamphorhynchus flies in front of it. A heavy Stegosaurus lumbers out of frame, while a small feathered dino-bird Archaeopteryx takes flight over the lake. The lush vegetation includes ancestral cycads such Williamsonia, extinct conifers like Araucarites, ferns like Matonidium and horse tail rushes like Neocalamites. Today, Brontosaurus has been renamed Apatosaurus — although a small but growing group of paleontologists assert that these animals were actually two distinct genera. Brontosaurus is poised for a comeback.
Set during the Late Cretaceous of 65 million years ago, this fourth panel from the “Age of Reptiles” depicts a red eyed Tyrannosaurus rex momentarily thrown off its quarry of Edmontosaurus by an armored Ankylosaurus crossing its path. The tableaux is full of flowers, and familiar trees such as Ginkgos and Magnolias. Palms such as Sabalites and Palmettos sway with the passing of the giant reptiles. Palm-like shrubs such as Pandanus grow underfoot.
An excerpt from the middle of Zallinger’s Pleistocene panel in his mural, “The Age of Mammals,” this pastoral setting takes places 11,000 years ago. A Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) chases away an extinct Long Horned Bison, while a herd of woodland musk ox Bootherium graze placidly on grass in the distance.