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This Guy Loves Urban Fossils

Paw prints and bird tracks that have been carved in concrete are some of the cute little things that you will see in your life. These prints can be found in roads, sidewalks, and in construction sites. For Carl Mehling, however, they are more than cute; these are moments in time that were immortalized as the concrete dried.

When [he] was a second-grader in Queens, his mom walked him to school past a leaf in the sidewalk. “I regarded it as a fossil, and was scheming about getting a hammer and busting it out,” he says. Now, Mehling is a senior museum specialist in paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York—and he’s still obsessed with the world around his shoes. When he’s in the field looking for fossils, or in the woods hunting for mushrooms, he says, “my eyes are always slammed against the ground.” He started zeroing in on concrete prints a decade or so ago, when a friend was looking to incorporate some into the endpapers of a book. That “flipped my switch,” Mehling says. “I just never stopped.”

And so find and photograph urban fossils he did.

Learn more about his story over at Atlas Obscura.

(Image Credit: Carl Mehling/ Atlas Obscura)

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