Subscribe to San Francisco Magazine

Mod Lux Feeds

Now Playing

Cutest Science Lesson Ever

A baby ostrich walks into a museum.

No, that’s not the setup to a joke;
it’s one of the preparations for
“Earthquake,” an exhibition
opening May 26 at the California
Academy of Sciences. The show
will host a flock of ostrich chicks,
tucked in between a 25-foot-wide
model of Earth and a jouncing
Loma Prieta simulator. The birds
can’t predict the next earthquake,
but they can tell us something
about why earthquakes happen.

The flightless forebears of the
ostrich lived about 150 million
years ago, when the continents
of the southern hemisphere were
still joined. As the land mass
fractured and slowly drifted apart,
the proto-ostrich family was
dispersed around the globe and
evolved into different species,
such as the Australian emu and the
South American rhea. The ostrich
diaspora is “a validation of plate
tectonic theory,” says Helen Taylor,
an Academy spokesperson—and
a charming coda to the exhibition
downstairs on animal mating and