In the Melbourne Museum is a collection of rainforest leaves. Wafer thin, they are not part of the forest gallery that gives visitors a taste of Victoria’s modern-day temperate rainforest. Rather, they are part of an exhibition about the tropical rainforest that Victoria was home to millions of years ago. Donated by the late palaeobotanist David Christophel – who explains in a video on the museum website that he never stopped feeling excited at being the first human to lay eyes on fossils buried millions of years ago – the fragile leaves are from the warm, moist Eocene period, about forty to fifty million years ago, when Australia was still part of the fragmenting supercontinent, Gondwana.
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