Since my introduction was so long I posted it separately.
FourCornersFreePress, December 2019
In the first half of this look at Earth’s 4.6 billion year old pageant of Evolution, scaled down to 24 hours, Earth’s first enduring Life took about 4 hours to claw together an existence within very tiny, very simple, very protective sacks, against an extremely harsh environment.
After that, Evolution progressed very slowly. Why? Because Earth’s hostile environment provided limited means, this stifled further development. Which brings us to a key early scientific breakthrough in perspective, namely that an organism cannot be understood without also understanding the environment it lives within.
It took another 17 hours worth of Earth’s geology and biology combining forces to process and tame Earth’s raw materials to the point that descendants of those simple cells had the means to do more. Developing environments with changing conditions (ocean, atmosphere, chemistry, nutrients, climatic conditions, tectonics) these are what enabled spectacular innovations and expansion.
In a poetic sense Earth’s geology taught biology by providing building blocks and forcing it to adapt to changing conditions. Life continually repurposed its genetic heritage, body parts were re-proportioned, modifications made, animals radiated, and survivors learned to thrive in their brave new environments.
The increasing interaction of plants, animals, predators, prey, sensing, grasping, protecting, hiding, thinking – the stuff of competition, all of it working together giving birth to ecology and the outlines of today’s world during the Cambrian Period.
Since about 9:00 PM, or 500 million years ago, Earth’s Evolution has simply been variations on those themes as Life danced to climate, plate tectonics and celestial influences.
Around 9:30 PM, or 443 million years ago, the third period of Earth’s Paleozoic Era (old life) begins with 14 minutes of the Ordovician Period and growing continents around the southern hemisphere. Jostling each other caused erratic sea level rise and increased continental erosion dumped into the seas, while first plants emerged on land. When continents converged around the South Pole another killer ice age was initiated.
¶8] The 9 minute Silurian Period brought in another resurgence of Life and diversifying species as those continents drifted north through the temperate climate zone.
The Devonian Period, at about 9:50 PM, lasted nearly 18 minutes with continents aligning along the equator, then slowly coalescing into another supercontinent called Pangea. Tougher environments and climate served to force Life to evolve better solutions, such as seeds.
Pangea related tectonics caused increased volcanoes, disappearing shallow seas, and poisoned the ocean. This forced another round of smaller extinctions. It also drove desperate refugees to diversify and explore river systems and land habitats.
By 10:07 PM with dust settling, the warming Carboniferous Period became a big deal because the air contained 35% oxygen. Life on land soaked it in, insects became giants, plants became lush forests and genetic tinkering landed upon the egg.
The 18 minute long Carboniferous came in with glaciers, went out with droughts and deserts, causing another collapse at 10:27 PM. When conditions improved a slimmed down Permian Period biota rebounded for 15 minutes.
Then around 10:41 PM, a volcanic event like none other occurred. Under Siberia a hot lava plume encountered a subducting oceanic plate with all of its carbon rich rock, organics, and sea water. The hot plume melted into sills, creating immense vapor pressure, before continuing to the surface and an unimaginably powerful and dirty explosion.
After which the Siberian Traps continued erupting in ‘normal’ fashion for the next million years. Over 90% of ocean Life and two-thirds of land animals disappeared. So ended the Paleozoic Era at 252 Million Years ago.
The Mesozoic (middle life) Era begins with 16 minutes of the Triassic Period. Again the few survivors didn’t miss a beat. Among the most noteworthy adaptations were tetrapods (four feet) who differentiated into distinct amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs, mammal-like reptiles and bird lineages. Plants also reached new heights and complexity, while insects scaled down and prospered, as did ocean Life.
¶16] Pangea was now breaking up and again causing intensified volcanic activity, decimating the Triassic Period biota. Survivors included dinosaurs who quickly radiated and dominated the following 17 minutes of the Jurassic Period and 25 minutes of the Cretaceous Period. Mammal-like critters kept it small, though diversifying just the same. Flowers and fruit appeared, reptiles and amphibians also prospered.
Then a well aimed mountain sized space rock crashed into the Yucatan Peninsula, releasing truly catastrophic cascading consequences 65 million years ago. Thus ended the hour long Mesozoic Era with three-quarters of animals and all non-avian dinosaurs dead, along with forests and jungles burned to a crisp. This was a mere 20 minutes ago.
Those forests and jungles, along with the atmosphere and oceans, eventually recovered and created new environments and conditions that enabled new groups of survivors to inherit the bounty and figure out how to exploit every possible niche during the Cenozoic (new life) Era.
Again Life’s evolving genetic toolkit enabled fantastical adaptations and diversification into the modern forests and grasslands that spread into previously uninhabitable harsh barren lands. Once mammals figured out how to exploit these new resources they filled every imaginable environmental niche on our Earth.
Among mammals were primates, with one branch leading to the first hominids 2 minutes ago. Through them modern humans appeared all of 6 seconds ago.
In the past milliseconds we humans have learned to reflect upon this universe and ourselves. We have become masters of science and manipulating the physical world.
We know much, but understand next to nothing, as demonstrated by (*) our wanton destruction of the biosphere we depend on for everything.
Humanity’s gluttonous self-serving instincts are inflicting reckless damages upon our planet and her biosphere like never before. We have been injecting ever more insulating CO2 into our atmosphere and carbonic-acid into our oceans - unlike anything since the triggers to the Permian/Triassic super extinction event.
¶24] What else is left to say? Not much, except perhaps to point out there will be consequences for our society’s flippant disregard of our Mother Earth, her life history, and her needs.
I'll finish with this NOVA program,
which is among the best 'prime time' documentary videos I've come across.
The History of Earth ~ NOVA
Archive to NOVA videos
Here's another contender, looking at the human lineage. Although it does come from an overly anthropogenic perspective, but that's how story-telling works. How else to get through to people with little understanding of Deep Time or evolution.
Mankind Rising -
Where do Humans Come From
Naked Science - 2015
List of all the links used in my Pageant of Evolution part two, along with their titles.
¶ 1 …
the first half = Pageant of Earth's Evolution (in 24hr) part one
pageant of Evolution = video_The Emergence of Life on Earth, Robert Hazen, March 15, 2012
first = Paper_Nick Lane: Unearthing the First Cellular Innovations
enduring Life = video, How Energy Flow Shapes The Evolution of Life, Nick Lane, Feb 14, 2018
about 4 hours = video_The Origin of Cellular Life on Earth, Jack Szostak, 2012
claw together = How life evolved: 10 steps to the first cells
existence = Earliest evidence of life on Earth ‘found’ ……By Pallab Ghosh, BBC News,1 March 2017
simple = Archaea, Wiki article
protective sacks = The first cell membranes, Deamer, et al, 2002
harsh environment. = Paper_Early Earth Had a Hazy, Methane-filled Atmosphere
¶ 2 …
Evolution progressed = video_Inevitable Life?, Eric Smith, Professor, Santa Fe Institute, April 18, 2007
very slowly - Why Did Earth Have a Poison-Filled "Boring Billion" Years?, Rebecca Kessler, Feb 25, 2011
hostile environment = video_How Oxygen Can Alter Evolution and Adaptation of Life in the Ocean, Erik Sperling
limited means, = Iron toxicity for cyanobacteria delayed oxygen accumulation in early Earth's atmosphere, Swanner et al. 2015
stifled further development. = Earth's 'boring billion' years of stagnant, stinking oceans might actually have been rather dynamic, by Simon Poulton
key early scientific breakthrough = Philosophy of Cell Biology, 2019
perspective, = Story of Dr. Peter Mitchell, biochemistry, chemiosmotic theory, bioenergetics.
environment = Chapter 5: THE LIVING ENVIRONMENT, project2061.org, American Association for the Advancement of Science
¶ 3 …
geology and biology = paper_The co-evolution of Life and Earth, Dietrich et al. 2017
process and tame = paper_The timetable of evolution, May 17, 2017
to the point that = Integrated records of environmental change and evolution challenge the Cambrian Explosion
had the means = video_How Energy Flow Shapes The Evolution of Life - Professor Nick Lane
Developing environments = Poster_Earth Evolution, intersection of Geology and Biology,, May 19, 2017
changing conditions = Life: Evolution and Extinction, WGBH
atmosphere = The earth's original atmosphere, atmo.arizona.edu/students
spectacular innovations and expansion = video_Animal Dawn - Dr. Diego Garcia-Bellido, 2016
¶ 4 …
geology taught biology = Geobiology - Life Emergent, Helen Hill, 2014
building blocks = paper_The evolution of geobiology in the context of living stromatolites, Spear, Corsetti, 2013
forcing it to adapt = Tempo And Mode In Evolution: Genetics And Paleontology 50 Years After Simpson.
changing conditions = Evolution Of The Atmosphere: Composition, Structure And Energy, globalchange.umich.edu
repurposed = How skates and rays got their wings, University of Chicago Medical Center, 2015
genetic heritage = The Concept of Co-option: Why Evolution Often Looks Miraculous, McLennan, 2008
body parts = paper_Developmental-Genetic Toolkit for Evolutionary Developmental Biology, Schneider, Amemiya, Dec 2016
modifications made = The Continuing Evolution of Genes, Zimmer, 2014
learned to thrive = What is biodiversity?, Lenne, 2019
brave new environments = Reciprocality between biology and geology: Reconstructing polar Gondwana, Michaux, 2009
increasing interaction = 'Evo-devo' biology tackles evolutionary history's unanswered questions, Indiana University, 2014
stuff of competition = paper_Rethinking Early Evolution: Earth's Earliest Animal Ecosystem Was Complex And Included Sexual Reproduction, University of California - Riverside, 2008
working together = paper_The Evolution of Evo-Devo Biology, Goodman, Coughlin, 2000
ecology = video_The Ediacaran Period: Glimpses of the Earth's Earliest Animals, Calla Carbone, 2016
outlines of today’s world = video_The origins of Ecdysozoan body plans, Martin Smith, 2017
plate tectonics = video_Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau, Wayne Ranney, 2015
climate = Earth's Earliest Climate, Angela M. Hessler, 2011
celestial = Bombardment of the early Solar System, Nature Geoscience, July 2013
influences = Milankovitch Cycles, OpenSourceSystems.foundation.us
Paleozoic Era = video_The Hidden Secrets of the Ordovician Age, Richard Smith, Oct 21, 2014
Jostling = video_1.5 billion years of Plate Tectonics, C.R. Scotese, Oct 1, 2017
first plants = video_How plants crawled out of the sea, Oct 5, 2015
on land = The first conquerors of land, Vasika Udurawane, EarthArchives.org
converged around the South Pole = 50 years ago, an Antarctic fossil pointed to Gondwanaland’s existence, Maria Temming, 2019
killer ice age = paper_The Magnitude and Duration of Late Ordovician–Early Silurian Glaciation, February 11, 2011
Silurian Period = The Silurian - 443 to 417 Million Years Ago, Paleoportal.org
diversifying species = paper_Diversity Dynamics of Silurian–Early Carboniferous Land Plants in South China, September 20, 2013
Devonian Period = Devonian Period, Ohio History Central
18 minutes = The First Forests, DevonianTimes.org
continents aligning = paper_On the sensitivity of the Devonian climate to continental configuration, vegetation cover and insolation, Brugger et al., 2018
Pangea = Coal formation linked to assembly of supercontinent Pangea, Nelsen et al., 2016
tectonics = 1.5 billion years of Plate Tectonics, C.R. Scotese, Oct 1, 2017
poisoned the ocean = What caused Earth's biggest mass extinction?, Hannah Hickey, Dec 6, 2018
refugees = Why Did Life Move to Land? For the View, Jennifer Ouellette, March 7, 2017
explore = Evolution and Function of Freshwater Ecosystems, Pokorný P.
systems = Book_Freshwater Fishes: 250 Million Years of Evolutionary History
Carboniferous Period = Plants Cover The Earth, fossils-facts-and-finds.com
a big deal = paper_Formation of most of our coal brought Earth close to global glaciation, Georg Feulner, 2017
35% oxygen = The Age of Oxygen (400 MYA to 290 MYA), Smithsonian Institution
land soaked it in = Coal formation linked to assembly of supercontinent Pangea, Ker Than, Jan 20, 2016
giants = Why Giant Bugs Once Roamed the Earth, By Ker Than, August 9, 2011
plants = Early Plant Life, LumenLearning.com
forests = The First Forests, Sedeer el-Showk, July 08, 2013
biota = A hidden cradle of plant evolution in Permian tropical lowlands, Blomenkemper, 2018
for 15 minutes = Permian to Triassic, British Geologic Survey,
like none other = End-Permian extinction, which wiped out most of Earth's species, was instantaneous in geological time, by Jennifer Chu, Sept. 19, 2018
melted into sills = paper_Initial pulse of Siberian Traps sills as the trigger of the end-Permian mass extinction, Burgess et al., 2017
Siberian Traps = Earth’s worst extinction “inescapably” tied to Siberian Traps, CO2, and climate change, Howard Lee, October 14, 2015
So ended = Siberian Traps likely culprit for end-Permian extinction, Jennifer Chu, Sept 16, 2015
middle life = The Mesozoic Era IV: Flowers and Mammals, University of Maryland, Tholtz, 2011
begins = The Triassic Period: the rise of the dinosaurs, Josh Davis, August 27, 2019
Triassic Period = Reptiles Inherit The Earth, fossils-facts-and-finds.com
didn’t miss a beat = paper_Life in the Aftermath of Mass Extinctions, Pincelli Hull, Oct. 5, 2015
noteworthy = Closing Romer's Gap: The story so far, National Museums Scotland
adaptations = The origin of tetrapods, Evolution.Berkeley.edu
four feet = Tetrapod Triumph! Solving Mystery Of First Land Vertebrates, By Gemma Tarlach, Dec 5, 2016
who = Paleobiology of the Mesozoic Era, FossilMuseum.net
differentiated = video_Wings, Legs, and Fins: How Do New Organs Arise in Evolution?, Neil Shubin, 2009
amphibians = The evolution of Amphibians: The Conquest of Land, David López Bosch, July 2015
reptiles = The genesis of reptiles and the amniotic egg, ReptileEvolution.com
bird = Earliest Beginnings Of Bird Evolution Brought Into Focus With New DNA Analysis, AllAboutBirds.com Oct 5, 2015
lineages = Origin and Evolution of Birds, UntamedScience.com
Plants = The evolution of plants part 4: A tale of flowers and seeds, Vasika Udurawane
new heights = video_How did plants become forests during the Carboniferous?, Benjamin Burger, Nov 7, 2015
scaled down = Reign of the giant insects ended with the evolution of birds, Tim Stephens, June 04, 2012
ocean Life = Greenhouse World and The Mesozoic Oceans, Takashima et al., 2006
Pangea = Breakup of supercontinent Pangea cooled mantle and thinned crust, University of Texas at Austin, Dec 2016
now breaking up = paper_Quantifying the effects of the break up of Pangaea on global terrestrial diversification with neutral theory, Jordan 2016
decimating = Life between extinctions: cracking open the Cretaceous period, Katie Kline, Mar 25, 2010
Triassic Period = 3.4.3. Triassic-Jurassic Boundary, ldeo.columbia.edu
biota = Triassic Period, GeologyPage.com, April 7, 2014
reptiles = Ancestral Reptiles of the Carboniferous and Permian Periods, ThoughtCo.com
Survivors included dinosaurs = Decade of fossil collecting gives new perspective on Triassic period, emergence of dinosaurs, University of Washington, March 28, 2018
critters = The Evolution of the First Mammals, Bob Strauss, June 24, 2019
Cretaceous Period= What can the Cretaceous tell us about our climate?, Philip Pika, August 20, 2018
Mammal-like = Synapsid, Wikipedia
diversifying = Two studies, two answers: When exactly did mammals emerge?, Brad Balukjian, Aug 7, 2013
Flowers = paper_Evolving Ideas on the Origin and Evolution of Flowers: New Perspectives in the Genomic Era, Andre S. Chanderbali, et al., 2016
fruit = 26.1C: Evolution of Angiosperms, LibreTexts, Nov, 19,2019
reptiles = The First Reptiles, ThoughtCo.com
amphibians = Cretaceous Amphibians, Western Australian Museum, 2014
a well aimed = Fossil Site Reveals Day That Meteor Hit Earth and, Maybe, Wiped Out Dinosaurs, Broad and, Chang, March 29, 2019
space rock crashed into = The Impact That Wiped Out the Dinosaurs, Hartmann, Planetary Science Institute
Mesozoic Era = The Mesozoic era, AustralianMuseum.net
eventually recovered = How long did it take for life to rebound after the death of the dinosaurs?, Sarah Kaplan, Nov. 7, 2016
survivors = Placental Mammals Originated On Earth 65 Million Years Ago, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, June 21, 2007
Cenozoic = Cenozoic Era, University of Kansas
new life = The Cenozoic, Palaeos.com
genetic toolkit = paper_Developmental-Genetic Toolkit for Evolutionary Developmental Biology, Schneider, Amemiya, Dec 2016
modern = Rising fast: the first trees, EarthHistory.org.uk
forests = Tracing the evolution of forest trees, Marlene Cimons, Nov 2014
grasslands = How did grasses alter Earth’s ecosystem?, Caroline Strőmberg, June 8, 2015
mammals = Flowering plants, new teeth and no dinosaurs: New study sheds light on the rise of mammals, University of Washington, May 1, 2019
how to exploit = The idiosyncratic mammalian diversification after extinction of the dinosaurs, Peter Moon, Dec 21, 2018
primates = The First Primates, Palomar.edu
first hominids = Infographic_Human Evolution: A Timeline of Early Hominids, EarthHow.com, Sept 2, 2018
appeared = World History Timelines - Mapping Two Million Years of Humanity, K. Kris Hirst, August 31, 2019
6 seconds = Human History Timeline, humanhistorytimeline.com
past milliseconds = book_The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events, Based on Werner Stein's Kulturfahrplan, Bernard Grun
learned = The Evolution of Philosophy, Christopher J. Wills, Sept 2012
masters of science = Timeline of scientific discoveries, From Wikipedia
manipulating the physical world = How Are We Changing the Physical Environment of Earth’s Surface?, NAP.edu
We know much = The Birth of Modern Science, TheGreatCoursesDaily.com
but understand next to nothing = The missing key to Stephen Gould’s Nonoverlapping Magisteria, citizenschallenge.blogspot.com
(*) = DeepEcology.org
wanton destruction = Powerful new map depicts environmental degradation across Earth, by Michael Miller, Nov 19, 2018
Humanity’s gluttonous = The Evolution of Human Gluttony, Nathan Lents, Sept 20, 2014
self-serving = paper_Human Domination of Earth's Ecosystems, Vitouse et al. 1997,
inflicting reckless damages = Rate of environmental degradation puts life on Earth at risk, say scientists, Oliver Milman, Jan 15, 2015
like never before = Human impact has pushed Earth into the Anthropocene, scientists say, Adam Vaughan, Jan 7, 2016
injecting ever more = How we measure background CO2 levels on Mauna Loa, Earth System Research Laboratory, NOAA
insulating CO2 = CO2 Science - Blue team: "Pruitt, it's certain as certain gets! It's the physics! Don't you know???, ConfrontingScienceContrarians, citizenschallenge
carbonic-acid = The Chemistry of Ocean Acidification, PMEL.NOAA.gov
since the triggers = The Great Permian Extinction: When all life on Earth almost vanish, Jackson Chambers, 2016
Not much = Peter, why are you an Earth Centrist?
Mother Earth = Our Changing Biosphere, serc.carleton.edu