Michigan fifth-grader Kenton Stufflebeam can now claim something few academics can muster: finding an error in a Smithsonian display. The 11-year-old spotted the error on the museum’s Tower of Time, a display involving prehistoric time, which refers to the Precambrian as an era.
Kenton remembered that his fifth-grade teacher, John Chapman, told him that it was not an “era.” For those who vaguely recall the term, the Precambrian (Pre-Cambrian) refers to the eons of the geologic timescale that came before the current Phanerozoic eon around 4500 Ma (million years ago) and stretching to the evolution of abundant macroscopic hard-shelled animals at the start of the Cambrian, click here (Better?).
His father, Kevin Stufflebeam reported the problem with his son on a comment form at the museum. Weeks later they received a letter from the museum with a rare mea culpa: “The Precambrian is a dimensionless unit of time, which embraces all the time between the origin of Earth and the beginning of the Cambrian Period of geologic time.” The museum has decided to paint over the word “era.” The museum then mummified little Stufflebeam and added him to the Bronze Age exhibit. (Ok, I made that last part up).
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