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Pre-Cambrian [[was Instant Future]]
Life started on earth about 4 billion years ago, about as soon as
it cooled enough to allow liquid water but, for 5/6 of that time,
we didn't even have multicellular organisms. 570 million years ago
the Cambrian Explosion occurred and in less than 10
start during this same brief period. Nobody knows why things
happened so suddenly but I think there must have been some bio
chemical problem ( the need for efficient calcification? ) that
My geobiology professor suggested that someone invented predation.
There is evidence of multicellular organisms in pre-Cambrian times,
known as the Ediacaran fauna. Their fossil imprints look like small air
mattresses, and thought to have been photsynthetic or filter feeders,
and definitely soft-bodied.
One of the later fossils has a bite taken out of it. Calcification to
make shells would become attractive then. More generally, the a-life
experiments I've read about indicate that predation or parasitism is a
wonderful force for encouraging diversity; without it the life-space is
taken over by the most efficient replicator. This might explain the
creativity and experimentation. Some experiments worked out, like
the Chordates, others led to dead ends like Hallucigenia.
Stephen Jay Gould would choke here; he thinks Hallucigenia was probably
perfectly "viable", but random factors selected chordates. It's
impossible to tell now, of course, although the answer to the question
would have implications regarding alien pre-transcendence biological
>Hubris is at the core of Greek Tragedy. The hubric quality
>of the hero brings his own downfall.
As Freeman Dyson, and possibly Haldane before him, pointed out, one of
the greatest examples of hubris in Greek myth was Daedalus' creation of
the Minotaur (building a woooden bull for Minos' wife so she could mate
with the real bull.) He also succeeded in flying. How these compare to
Aesculapius' raising the dead is not objectively definable, but to me
they seem pretty hubristic -- and went largely unpunished. His life
wasn't a bed of roses, but given what he did he got off pretty lightly.
-xx- Damien Sullivan X-) <*> http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~phoenix
Prowl, run, howl at the full moon
I can't do it right, don't know why I try.
Soon the moon will be rising
Oh woe is the life of a werewolf.