The history of life on Earth began 4.6 billion years ago. In this short clip that time is represented by a 100m line in our school yard decorated with events...
Peter Phillips's insight:
Earth cooled, its atmosphere formed and simple life evolved which breathed out oxygen, creating the air we enjoy today. It took a long time for life to be able to live on the land, but once it did, it exploded, with every type of animal and plant. In a 100 metre line, homo sapiens evolved in the last 4 cm. In 2013 there were 7 billion of us on the planet. Lets look after it and each other.
After a quick round of golf Anja Taylor joins a team of scientists for a spell-binding diving expedition into the Nullarbors deepest cave
Peter Phillips's insight:
the Nullarbor is littered with gigantic underground caves and passages. That's because it's made up of the largest continuous block of limestone in the world. Formed when the whole plain was underwater, it built up over millions of years from the skeletons of tiny sea creatures. When the sea retreated, the limestone was exposed to the elements and cave formation began.
“Living” molecules, meaning intact cellular structures that haven’t fossilized, were recently retrieved from 350-million-year-old remains of aquatic sea creatures uncovered in Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa, according to a study that will appear in the March issue of the journal Geology.
The animals- crinoids- were spindly and had feathered arms. Their relatives today are called by the plant-like name “sea lily.”
The retrieved molecules are quinones, which function as pigments or toxins (to help ward off predators) and are still found in modern sea lilies. The molecules aren’t DNA, unfortunately, but they can reveal other things about past life, such as the color of long gone animals.
“There are lots of fragmented biological molecules — we call them biomarkers — scattered in the rock everywhere,” William Ausich, professor in the School of Earth Sciences at Ohio State and co-author of the paper, said in a press release. “They’re the remains of ancient plant and animal life, all broken up and mixed together. But this is the oldest example where anyone has found biomarkers inside a particular complete fossil. We can say with confidence that these organic molecules came from the individual animals whose remains we tested.”
The ultra ancient crinoids appear to have been buried alive in storms during the Carboniferous Period. At that time, North America was covered with vast inland seas. The skeletal remains of the buried-alive crinoids filled with minerals over time, but some of the pores containing organic molecules were miraculously sealed intact.
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