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When palm trees thrived in the Pacific Northwest

Fossils at the Burke Museum tell a story of our past climates. 

Knute examines a fossilized palm frond originally found in the Bellingham area in the basement of the Burke Museum.

A 12,000-year-old pine cone, a fossilized ginkgo leaf — Knute Berger dives into the Burke Museum’s paleobotany collection to find out what Washington use to look like and to contemplate which of the state's former, and considerably warmer, climates would be the most suitable dwelling for a modern-day Mossback. These specimens might help scientists understand, and prepare for, human-caused climate change.

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When palm trees thrived in the Pacific Northwest

About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's editor at-large as well as a regular columnist covering history, politics and culture in the Pacific Northwest.

Eric Keto

Eric is a video producer for Cascade Public Media.