Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Cambrian Explosion

For those of you following the Cosmic Calendar, yesterday was the Cambrian Explosion!

Sometime around half a billion years ago, a great deal of diversity in animal body plans appeared in a relatively short period of time. This was a major event in the development of the rich and complex biosphere we now enjoy.

Yesterday is also an ideal start for a Cosmic Advent Calendar. After the Cambrian Explosion, there is some sort of significant evolutionary event at least every day (every 41 million years) until the present moment (midnight on December 31st). In my Google Calendar version, I have found examples for every day except December 25th and 27th. Perhaps you can help fill them in?

I would love to announce an event every day on this blog through the advent period, but I will be away for a week visiting family. So I'll cover my lapse by inviting you to do this the freethinking way.

First, check out the Google Calendar. Feel free to check my accuracy - I'm no evolutionary biologist.

Second, think of two or three of your favorite animals. Think of (or research) a significant evolutionary event for each. Put that event on your own personal Cosmic Calendar.

Third, meditate on how life might have been like in the deep past. Today, the first vertebrates appear: fish. Can you imagine a world without fish? With only one species of fish? What did it look like? The land is still effectively barren - no plants, no animals (not even insects).

Finally, do something that is relevant to the day's Cosmic event. My impulse is to make it food-related - eat fish and chips, or fish-shaped crackers.

Enjoy, and have an exciting Cosmic Countdown!

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