Your Federal Quarterly Tax Payments are due April 15th Get Help Now >>

The Cambrian by xiuliliaofz


									The Cambrian
In this class we will talk about petanca (French bowling
game), billiards, puzzles, of the flying carpet game. But,
although it does not seem so, we will not comment on
sports. Or even talk about games. We're going to talk about
the formation of our planet. In the previous class we had
seen how our world was generated. Let us remember how,
according to some, it was formed from a nebula; according
to others, from the famous Big Bang or a large meteorite
Afterwards we saw our planet turn into a ball of fire.
When it was starting to calm down, the game advanced.
And now the most important movements were to come.
An excellent carom, as in the jargon used in pool/billiards,
hit the target in full. The large meteorite, CEA, hit right on us
and took us out of our first orbit, to situate us in the present
one. It seems to be correcting an initial error of calculation.
It was this clash and this game that allowed for the
existence of life. It placed us at the right distance from the
sun. Before the impact life on Earth was not viable.
Furthermore, as a result of the bang, the Moon, our
satellite, was formed, with fragments of CEA and the Earth.
Our planet won both in spatial position and in volume
because CEA increased it in 20% so it is now under our
After the tremendous bang, came the unrest and more fire.
The Earth roared. To calm the fire down, the water arrived.
It was the most intense flood ever. 500 million years of rain.
Some scientists set out that it could not be only land water.
That it also had to be Extraterrestrial that created our
oceans and seas. The zircon suggests an answer as we
The result was that the planet became a ball of green water,
color that was obtained by the residues of iron that are
visible on rocks dating from that era.
However, large and thick clouds prevented any non infra-
red color from passing through. If we would had had the
opportunity to witness the Pre-Cambrian landscape, we
would have had the vision of this red colored landscape.
But, despite the water contribution, the atmospheric toxic
gases, produced by the intense volcanic activity, prevented
any type of life.
Until the Stromatolite arrived.

Thanks to this single-celled organism the Earth was filled
with life.
Stromatolite fossils
It is the first inhabitant of our planet. A species of alga that
adheres to rocks and it would be like our great-great-great-
great-grandfather. In the West Australian coast, particularly
on the shores of Shark Bay, this organism can be seen,
even today.
They are thin layers of micro-organisms that capture energy
from sunlight and with the remains form this rocky
appearance. The discovery of these organisms was a
revolution in the research of fossils and the dating of the
Earth. While some proposed that the Earth had, at most,
6000 years of age, the dating of some Stromatolite fossils
indicated an antiquity of 3500 million years. So the Earth
had at least 3,500 million years. Millions of years ago the
entire planet was full of these rocky weeds. It therefore had
the same appearance as Shark Bay has today. But in order
to have life there has to be oxygen and that atmosphere full
of toxic gases was impossible and impractical for any
organism. Where did the oxygen come from? From this
simple kind of alga, the Stromatolite, which, through
photosynthesis, is able to breathe these toxic fumes of
carbon dioxide and change it to expel oxygen. It’s what our
plants do and it is called photosynthesis. This small being
changed the color of our house, from green it became the
blue planet we know today and made it livable, breathable.
However, once the planet was blue, full of clean air and
generating life, new disasters would destroy all this. The
Earth was once again going to fall into confusion.
Destruction will be created.
What happened next is the description of the period known
as the 1st worldwide Great Extinction. The nearly massive
disappearance of a life occurred for the first time in the
history of our planet.
What nearly ended with the Stromatolite?
The convulsion came from the depths of the oceans.
At school, the children, experts in solving the great puzzles,
when they saw the map of the world, said that the
continents fitted together. The same was observed in 1620
by Francis Bacon and after by Benjamin Franklin.
But this would mean that the continents moved, and were
still moving. Without specific and proven evidence, which
could be assured by the academic dogma, teachers could
not accept it. They looked at this child intuition with
tenderness, indulgence and certain superiority. For them it
did not have much logical sense. Moreover, it seemed
impossible to prove. The forms were a mere coincidence.
Science replied: "What atrocity! How are the continents
going to move? The reply came from Germany. The theory
of the continental drift was originally proposed by Alfred
Lothar Wegener in 1912. The same year that the Titanic
 Wegener was a German meteorologist, geologist and
scientist who developed his theory by observing the map of
the Earth as did the children. He realized how the
continents seemed to fit on each side of the Atlantic Ocean.
In particular Africa and South America.
He also based his opinion on the likeness of the fossils from
different continents far away from each other, for example,
from fresh water only species and also from certain
geological formations typical of a certain place. Wegener
said that all the present continents must have been united
in the past forming a proto continent to later split, slide and
end up separating as it is now.
In his original thesis, he proposed that the continents were
moving on the mantle of the Earth in the same way that a
carpet moved on the floor of a room.
However, this audacity led to the rejection of the scientific
community. His theory was considered as a hypotheses,
curious, clever and even funny, but impossible.
Saint-Exupery, the pilot as he liked to be called, wrote with
great clarity one of the most interesting stories in history:
"The Little Prince". The story of the little boy that looked for
friends became an anti-Nazi symbol. One of the most
famous phrases is: "The essential is invisible to the eye."
Well then, when the Little Prince draws a picture and shows
it to the adults, they say it is a hat.
Disappointed, he completes the picture and says:
My drawing is not a hat, but a boa snake, being eaten by an
Then he drew the inside of the snake, so that adults could
understand, because adults always need explanations.
Indeed, the little prince was right. Hats do not have eyes. If
we would have looked better, we would have realized that it
was a boa. In the same way, if they had looked better, they
would have realized that this curious coincidence of forms
between continents seemed to show they had been united
further back.
The answer and knowing who was right came, as it usually
occurs, due to a coincidence. During World War II the
Americans allies needed a map of the oceanic crust to
observe, without being discovered, the Japanese
submarines. They observed some deep cracks from where
magma flowed. It had a curious shape. The map appeared
to be pieces of a puzzle. When expelling lava and cooling,
they moved moving the masses.
Wegener and the children were right. There was a time
when the continents were united. The pieces fit. Continental
crust moved and moves over the oceanic mantle separating
an average of 2.5 cm per year. As a carpet on the floor.
Similar to the game of the Magic Carpet. This means that
Europe and America each year are a little further.
The discovery gave the reason to the children and Wegener
and opened a new science: the Tectonics of Plates.
According to the Tectonics, the oceanic layer is formed by
12 major marine plates and a few smaller ones. Fissure
eruptions are generated and where the plates come
together it is where there is seismic activity. The reason is
very simple: the underwater volcanic activity cracks the
oceanic mantle. The magma escapes from the cracks. Then
there are fissure eruptions, vapors, and the liquid fire opens
its way through where it can and as it pleases. It mainly
affects the basaltic stone lid that is the oceanic crust. Just
like when we cook with steam and we see that the heat
comes out from where it can. Each new gap allows for the
lava coming out to cool down, forming a new space. This
lava solidifies and creates a new piece of crust. If that
space is occupied by a new space, where does the old one
go? Well, inside. It is recycled. It is introduced in the mantle
where it is mixed with the magma. The movement is like
that of the conveyor belts or mechanical escalators.
Osaka Umeda Building. Japan. Architect Horishi Hara.
Suspended 167 meters.
But this activity is not very beneficial. When the continental
crust cracks, it produces tremendous damage. The extent
of damage depends on where it happens. Depending if it is
farther or closer to inhabited areas. If it happens near the
earth, earthquakes arise. One of the countries that most
suffers from earthquakes is Japan. There everything that is
built is anti-earthquake. As these escalators in the Osaka
Umeda Building of the architect Horishi Hara, who, with his
167 meters in suspension, and that make them unique in
the world. Not suitable for those who suffer from vertigo.
But if it happens at or near sea areas, geysers, fumaroles,
tidal waves and tsunamis occurr.
In this image of Hokusai called "The Great Wave" it shows
us his interpretation of the Tsunami. We can see the poor
sailors with their faces in fear. This artist and this work in
particular will be very important for the Impressionists. He
made a series on Mount Fuji during the day, the evening, in
winter, in summer. As will later do Cezanne with the Saint-
Victoire mountain and Monet with the Rouen cathedral.
But it is also very important because Hokusai introduced a
new genre: Manga as the precedent of a drawing that
contains a story, a narrative intent.
In recent times, he has also inspired other artists like the
photographer Jeff Wall.
Iceland is one of the countries where this activity of the
movement of plates is better appreciated. Thingvellir
National Park, a place of great historical importance
because it was the place where the Icelandic parliament
first gathered in the year 930, is also of a geological and
unsurpassable significance. There one can see the fault
system that separates the American and European tectonic
Therefore, it is evident that if compact masses move there
comes a time when they will eventually unite at some end.
Whilst developing this theory we come up with the super
continental cycle or Wilson cycle, proposed by John Tuzo
Wilson, who said that every 400-500 million years all the
emerged land masses unite, forming a super continent. The
next one would be the 4th.
The first was called proto-continent Columbia and is
believed to have been formed between 2,000 and 1,800
million years ago.
Then Rodini was formed which began to slowly come
together about 1300 million years ago and from the three or
four existing continents. It was a continent that gathered
much of the land emerged from the planet. It remained
united about 200 million years. It began to break 800 million
years ago due to the earthquakes caused by intense
volcanic activity.
It is believed to have been largely responsible for the
Neoproterozoic Glaciations, which ended up with most of
the living organisms. And it is believed that it occurred
because when splitting and moving, it blocked the warm
currents, and the planet froze.
The eight continents that were part of Rodini later united
again in the global super continent called PANGEA formed
around the Permian period 280-240 M. years ago
But what was happening with existence in the meantime?
With life? The Primary era began 542 M. years ago. The
Cambrian period is the first of the six stages of the
Paleozoic Era, also known as the Primary Era. At this time
there is an outbreak of life because, as we have seen, of
the Stromatolites.
"Cambrian Explosion". This name refers to the sudden
appearance of complex multi cellular macroscopic
organisms. Animal life thrives in the seas. The first fish
The Causes of the Cambrian explosion are unknown. There
is no one single accepted reason by the entire scientific
community to explain the Cambrian explosion. It is a
phenomenon constantly under discussion. It can be the
result of several factors, both biological and geological.
But with this explosion of life, it seems that the Earth has
been subjected to a test of trial and error. Create, develop
and destroy. It seems a waste of time, talent, work and
effort. So long to create life. So much suffering, for then to
have everything covered with the white mantle of the
Glaciations. It is curious that when we are preparing a
project we quickly proceed to write it on paper. If we are not
satisfied, what do we do? We crumple the white paper into
a ball and throw it away. We start again with a new sheet
white as snow. Just as the Earth has done 15 times.
Sometimes you reject most of the project, but part of what is
done is of value and is passed on to the new sheet. But at
other times, hardly anything is useful, we consider it useless
and we don’t consider it. We start virtually from scratch.
This has happened 7 times because it has suffered 7 mass
extinctions. Is it that Nature makes mistakes?
Nowadays the life of some species can survive because as
the water slowly freezes it turns into very transparent ice,
and the little light that can pass through the huge layer of
ice on the sea is enough to maintain the first link in the food
How is this new white paper produced? With every ice age?
The immediate causes of the mass extinctions are
unknown. Although we know the damage caused by
volcanic activity. But it does not seem enough, say the
scientists, to produce such devastating effects. There is a
theory that attributed all or nearly all major extinctions to the
meteorite impacts. It has been statistically established that,
approximately, each 100 million years on average a
kilometric asteroid hits the Earth.
If one takes into account that the multi cellular life is present
some 600 million years, there has been between 5 and 6
great extinctions since then.
The same volcanoes that in many moments created the
disaster, also solved the Glaciations. When it was covered
with snow, like a blanket, the gases produced the
greenhouse effect making the temperature rise until, at
least, part of the sea melted.
Geologists are beginning to accept the mass extinctions of
species of organisms as normal events in the geological
history of Earth.
When reading "The Wonderful Life” of Stephen Jay Gould,
there is a fascination with the beings that are described.
Such a technical and academic theme as the Cambrian
explosion is narrated with such passion that it makes
anyone, even if not knowledgeable in the matter, to want to
go to Canada and hit with a geologist’s hammer on the
Rocky Mountains chalk of the famous Burgess Shale site.
"Burgess Shale" is the name of a town and a famous fossil
site in Yoho National Park in Canada, known for its rich
remains of invertebrate animals of the Cambrian period
about 540 million years old discovered in 1909 by Charles
What was found there? A burst of life and imagination that
had surged millions of years ago. Anything that we could
imagine with the maximum of strangeness and creativity
occurred in those moments. There were more different
species in the primary age that there has been since then.
The superb preservation of fossils is of such quality that
they exist also in 3 dimensions. Even the digestive system
can be appreciated. This is why we have been able to
reproduce them with reliability. The drawings of the scenes
from the Primary era are a wonder that show the
imagination of Nature. The strangest beings met under the
water. Let us imagine beings with 5 eyes? Yes, they
existed. And who also had a trunk? Yes, as well. And at the
end of the trunk a pincer? Why not? Well, this also.
So much imagination and creativity has not been in vain. At
least in what pertains to the future. It has awaken the
creativity of many filmmakers with regard to their characters
in science fiction films like BLADE RUNNER and ALIEN by
Ridley Scott, DUNE by David Lynch, STAR WARS by
George Lucas or the latest of THE HOST Bong Joon-ho.
After the burst of life came annihilation. Only the marine
sponges and a few simple organisms that could stand up to
the glacial cold remained. It seems incredible, right? So
much life wasted. Well that's not all. In the Jurassic nearly
all animal life was lost. We have existed 800,000 years
since our first ancestor. We believe that after all this time
we will not disappear as easily as that. The dinosaurs were
160 M. years on Earth and there is no trace of them. We
may need to be more humble and should not think we are
so important, nor so essential to this planet.
In the next class will end with the Flintstones. Funny
drawings. We will advance until we meet with Lucy, our first
Thank you very much and until the next day.

To top