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Monday, June 28, 2021

Time to Go (Part 3)

 After the Devonian, some recognizable sauropsids  developed along with a new group, the synapsids (likely precursors to mammals). Then with the Permian-Triassic Extinction 250 million years ago, 96% of all species disappeared in the "Great Dying" of Earth's history......even our friend the dimetrodon. Volcanic activity seems to have led to bacteria getting a boost in methane production, resulting in a toxic environment. No other extinction resulted in so great a species loss.

Some Permian creatures, sauropsids on the left, synapsids on the right.

All life had to rebound and diversify from the remaining 4%, and did...as life always does, leading to the development of mammals in the Triassic/Jurassic. In fact, mammals actually outnumbered archosaurs, and oddly, instead of "inheriting the Earth" as the new chosen species, volcanic activity caused mammals to die off in greater number in the Triassic/Jurassic Extinction which occurred about 200 million years ago than their reptilian counterparts. 

Crocodillian: "Hey ladies, wanna come play in my dungeon?"
Lead archosaur: "Just keep walking, girls. Ignore him."
Last archosaur: "Ummmm, but that sounds like fun."

That extinction then enabled dinosaurs to develop and rule the Earth for the next 135 million years, setting the stage for tremendous film and merchandising opportunities once humans came on the scene.............(but that was still a ways off.) Life was like a blissful Jurassic Park with everybody happily killing and eating everybody else, except it was no longer the Jurassic Period (Hollywood morons) and there were no humans around in safari suits to fuck things up. Everybody went about their business of grazing, or hunting, or mating......right up until a big asteroid landed around the Gulf of Mexico, leading to the wipe-out of 76% of the known species. This was the famous Cretaceous/Paleogene Extinction of 65 million years ago. 

Small dinosaur: "Dominant species, my ass! When I get you home, you're getting one heckuva tail whipping! Embarrassing me like that in front of the Triceratops. Hrumph!"

And that brings us to the Holocene Period which we are in now, the one with people in it. In our last segment we will look at "us" in the context of what the past has taught us and examine....or re-examine.....the significance of our role, our relative importance, and what it means to be the critter who developed the ability to make sugary breakfast cereals and I-Phones. 




10 comments:

  1. a fun read about the coelcanth
    a modern day dinosaur

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/science/coelacanth-fossil-1.6074328

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    1. Thanks for that link. I am a big fan/geek of the coelacanth story. The museum of Natural History in NYC has a little exhibit on them with some film footage of the Asian variety in the wild.

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  2. Last that I heard, we were in the Anthropocene period?

    Prefectdt

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    1. From what I read, that term is proposed but not officially adopted. It gets used though. I just went with the safer epoch of Holocene, which is commonly accepted. But really I suppose it’s a toMAYto/toMAHto situation at best.

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  3. "American Scientist" should hire you! Accurate and hilarious slowburn (ultimate ?)joke. It seem's to be the end of the warm-up, the meaty (should'I say juicy) part is near... Summer is coming ! Great work !

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    1. Thanks again. Unfortunately I believe my efforts are destined to remain obscure and entertain only the smallest of audiences.

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  4. No consensus on the word "Anthropocene". The use is a choice driven by opinion, a vision of life history, and about consequences of human impact. I adopted it because I think it sticks with the philosophy of French author François Terrasson. His french wiki page is well done, but his books are now, sadly,hard to find. I enjoyed sissy snow's link.

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    1. I got that impression as well, especially given the time frame proposed. When I get a chance I will look into that author at least a bit. And yes that link was a good one.

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  5. I did pretty well on the introductory quiz:

    {1} I guessed six extinction events so far (close);

    {2} My guess for species exterminated in an extinction event was 75-80%;

    {3} I correctly figured that T-Rexes weren't alive when those shown dinosaurs were, since the T-Rex was around only for a relatively short period of time, in the Cretaceous Period--so having a T-Rex at "Jurassic Park" was fictionally misleading;

    {4} I went with "C," obviously humans consider humanity's survival to be exceedingly important, yet Terrestrial life would continue without us, just as it did long before us;

    {5} I correctly went with "False," thinking particularly of cows producing methane gas.

    Many people are aware of the last extinction event, supposedly caused by a massive meteorite smashing into the Yucatan Peninsula... --C.K.

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