Barry: Here are some extracts from “A really short history of
nearly everything” by Bill Bryson. A book I highly recommend.
Life is an odd thing. It seems it couldn’t wait to get going but
having done so, it was in very little hurry to move on.
If you compress the 4500 million years of Earths history into a
normal 24 hour day, the single cell organisms came to life very
early. About 4am. but then everything stands still for the next
Lifes 24 hour day:
The planet is formed at 1am. But this is a hot poisonous place
where life can not get started. Then, at about 4am, the earliest
life forms emerge. Not until almost 8:30pm does the earth have
anything to show but for a restless skin of microbes.
At 9:04pm Trilibites swim onto the scene followed by the shady
creatures of the Burgess Shale. Then the first sea plants appear
followed 20 minutes later by the first Jelly Fish and early
Just before 10pm, plants begin to pop up on the land. Soon after,
with less than 2 hours left in the day, the first land creatures
follow. Thanks to 10 minutes or so of barmy weather. By 10h24,
the earth is covered in great Coniferous forests whose residues
give us all our coal and the first winged insects are evident.
Dinosaurs plod onto the scene just before 11pm and hold sway for
about 3 quarters of an hour.
At 21 minutes to midnight, they vanish and the age of mamals
Humans emerge 1 minute and 17 seconds before midnight.
(This is what is thought to be the start of the great burst of
complex, or multi-celled life. Known as the Cambrian explosion.
Although they did mysteriously go extinct, they were the most
successfull animals ever to live.)
In 1909, while climbing a mountain trail high up in the Canadian
Rockies, the American Paliontologist, Charles Doolittle Wallcott,
came across a layer of sedimentary rock containing an unmatched
collection of fossils. The outcrop known as the Burgess Shale was
formed 500 million years ago when the area wasn’t at the top of the
mountain at all, but at the foot of one. It lay in the shallow
ocean basin at the bottom of a steep cliff. The seas at that time
teemed with life. There was no fossil record of these creatures as
they were soft-boddied and decayed when they died. here however,
the cliff had collapsed and the creatures below were pressed into
the mud slide like flowers into a book. Their features preserved
in wonderful detail. The variety of species was enormous.
Into the fire:
The land is a formidable environment. Hot, dry, bathed in intense
ultra violet radiation and difficult to move on.
To live on land, creatures had to undergo wholesale revision of
their anatomies. Hold a fish at each end and it sags in the
middle. Its backbone too weak to support it. To survive out of
water, marine creatures needed a stronger load bearing bone
structure. Above all, any land creature would have to develop a
way to take its oxygen directly from the air rather than filtered
from the water. None of these were things that could happen over
night. But happen they did.
The first visable mobile residents on dry land were probably like
modern wood lice. These are little bugs, crustatians in fact, that
are commonly sprung into confusion when you upturn a rock or a log.
Blogger Barry: Thanks for your time. Hope you enjoyed. Please
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Barry Blomkamp Nd. Bsc (UL)
Professional Public Speaker, Trainer and Corporate Entertainer,
Motivational speaker, Guest & Key note speaker, Seminar &
Conference speaker, Team Builder, Comedian, Master of Ceremonies,
For your Strategic Planning sessions, Management or Sales meetings,
Conferences and/or Seminars, Award functions, Year end parties,
Cape Town, South Africa.