Archive for March, 2011

Cambrian Explosion

The fossils of the Cambrian era reveal the basic body plans of just about any organism in existence today. They also reveal a great deal of the body types that did not survive. Some of the alien looking creatures in the Burgess Shale either never survived a mass extinction or else have simply mutated into something a little more recognizable.

A far as questions go, mine mainly follow the pattern of lost possibilities and how certain adaptations helped some survive while others were too well adapted to their environment to cope with the changes that caused mass extinctions.


When I think of Tarzan, I think of the Disney film. I see a conflicted creature that doesn’t fully belong anywhere; a lonely existence that is only changed by the addition of other misfits.

In response to the situation, let’s face it; the guy has a muffled hammer. I’m not daft. If he’s willing to beat his dogs to the point of death, bloodying a human isn’t too far removed.

The right thing to do would probably be to whip out your handy dandy blaster and vaporize that menace to society. That is, if you could cope with the responsibility and possible ramifications. Barring that, I would boot scoot out of there. Once I had put some distance between myself and the guy, I’d call the ASPCA or its equivalent, and probably the regular police for good measure. Who knows, maybe the guy has past interfering students buried under his house or something. It’s better to blow whistles than ring funeral bells.

My personal philosophies do not run radically one way or the other. Rather, I see myself as one who is not yet sure of an opinion. One wearied by the many clamoring voices raised above their fellows in the din.

In my opinion, both sides have their pros and cons. The anthropocentric view supposedly takes a stand for humanities rights,  but seems to teach irresponsibility as well. By contrast, the bio centric stance would save the world by sacrificing human life and well being. Any middle ground is generally an excuse to sit back and do nothing.

Basically, I believe that each extreme can help to balance the other; that human mismanagement has left us in a precarious position but it is also immoral to play Ebeneezer Scrooge. Trying to “reduce the surplus population,” to hoard the planet for the “haves” at the expense of the “have nots” is not the answer either. Rather, a gradual shift towards equilibrium is necessary, a conscientious action rather than a forced lawful one.

If we’ve learned anything from past experience, humans acquire a set of morals only when it suits them.

I realize this is a bleak outlook, but I think it’s logical.

Watching Frans Lanting’s “Life Through Time” I was impressed by his ability to use surviving species from throughout Earth’s history and pair them with the right lighting and scenery to maximize the effect. While an audience can never be completely certain of the presenter’s intent, I would hazard to say that Lanting’s was to encourage preserving the balance that allows life on Earth to support itself in its diversity. This message is exceedingly important to a consumer society bent on demanding more than can be sustainably supplied.