Evolutionary Thinking Through Time

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Evolutionary Thinking Was Not Unique To Darwin’s Time.


Charles Darwin was not the first to come up with an idea of evolution. Evolutionary thinking was not unique to Darwin’s time. By the time On The Origin Of Species: By Means Of Natural Selection was first published in 1859. Evolution was a common concept.

Darwin invented

Evolution is any change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations across successive generations, leading to diversity in every level of biological organisation. It includes species, individual organisms, DNA and protein molecules, using both existing species and the fossil record. Evolution is the study of universal common ancestors’ origin on Earth 3.7 billion years ago that leads to an explanation of all life on Earth. Another common misconception is that Charles Darwin first proposed evolution. This is a fallacy.

Evolutionary thinking is far back as 611-547 B.C., ancient Greek philosopher, Anaxiamander hypothesized that:

“In the beginning there was a fishlike creature with scales that arose in and lived in the world oceans. As some of these advanced, they moved onto land, shed their scaly coverings and became the first humans.”

The Roman philosopher Lucretius (99-55 B.C.) was the first to realise that all living things were related and that they had changed over time. In his book, De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things), Lucretius wrote:

“Wherefore, again, again, how merited is that adopted name of Earth -the Mother!

Since she herself begat the human race; and at one well-nigh fixed time brought forth each breast that ranges raving round about upon the mighty mountains and all birds aerial with many a varied shape.

But, lo, because her bearing years must end, she ceased, like to a woman worn by eld.

For lapsing aeons change the nature of the whole wide world, and all things needs must take one status after other, nor aught persists forever like itself.

All things depart; Nature she changeth all, compelleth all
to transformation.”

Aristotle, (384 BC – 322 BC) developed his Scala Naturae, or Ladder of Life to explain his idea of the advancement of living things, from inanimate matter to plants. then animals and finally man.

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon in the middle to late 1700s proposed that species could change.

Erasmus Darwin, A British physician and poet in the late 1700s, proposed that life had changed over time. His poem titled, Origin of Society. Includes:

“Hence without parent by spontaneous birth

Rise the first specks of animated Earth;

Nature’s womb the plant or insect swims,

And buds or breathes, with microscopic limbs.

ORGANIC LIFE beneath the shoreless waves

Was born and nurs’d in Ocean’s pearly caves.

First forms minute, unseen by spheric glass,

Move on the mud, or pierce the watery mass;

These, as successive generations bloom.

New powers acquire, and larger limbs assume;

Whence countless groups of vegetation spring,

And breathing realms of fin, and feet, and wing.”

William Smith (1769-1839), developed the Principle of Biological Succession by stating:

“Each period of Earth history, has its own unique assemblages of fossils.”

Distinctly Human: An Evolutionary Journey.

Evolution: Work In progress.

Jean Baptiste de Lamarck, developed one of the first theories on how species changed. Lamarck, in 1809,concluded that organisms of higher complexity had evolved from pre-existing, less complex organisms.

It is not a mere coincidence that Erasmus Darwin shares the same surname as Charles Darwin. Erasmus Darwin was Charles Darwin’s grandfather and certainly influenced Charles’s thinking, probably throughout his entire life.

Human Population Fluctuations.

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Over the centuries leading up to the mid 20th century , the human population has fluctuated. These fluctuations were due to both natural causes and human causes. Famines, genocides, epidemics, such as plagues in Europe, Asia, and conflicts. Natural causes were probably due to an unprecedented number of volcanic eruptions.

The middle ages experienced a global warming period, causing changes in the ocean circulation and resulting in the Little Ice Age, between 1550 and 1850. This event was not a true ice age, but global temperatures decreased.

Little Ice Age

The most recent study found that an especially massive tropical volcanic eruption in 1258, followed by three smaller eruptions in 1268, 1275, and 1284 that did not allow the climate to recover, caused the initial cooling. The 1452 to 1453 eruption of Kuwae in Vanuatu triggered a second phase of cooling.

A History Of Life On Earth.

Time Of Humans: The New Legacy.

The beginning of the 20th Century, saw two major conflicts, resulting in population fluctuations: World Wars 1 and 2 between 1914 and 1918 and from 1939 to 1945, resulting in over 90 million casualties between both conflicts.

Since the beginning of the 21st Century, the Earths population has exceeded 7 billion humans. The 20th Century saw the strongest growth figures from the 1950s, witnessing its highest rate in the 1980s of 138 million births per year. Earths population has seen a steady increase from 370 million at the end of the great famine and Black Death in 1350.

Modern Humans And Natural Selection

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Evolutionary changes by Natural Selection is: Slow, Gradual changes over a lengthy period of time. From a common ancestor, leading to all modern life on Earth today. Including Humans.

It takes time, a long time for the slightest change to take place.

natural selection (modern)
natural selection

Evolutionary changes are still evident in and on the modern human body. Features that once in the Human history have had a definite useful purpose, but no longer have any significant use, for example:

  • The Wisdom Teeth (Third Molars): Earlier in human evolution, humans needed an extra set of molars to make the mouth more productive with chewing raw meat, nuts, tubers and leaves, the body lacked the ability to sufficiently digest cellulose which made the extra set of molars particularly essential. Over time our dietary requirements changed, making our extra set of molars useless.

Distinctly Human: An Evolutionary Journey.

Evolution: Work In Progress.


Evolution may be slowly proving the uselessness of wisdom teeth, as thirty five percent of modern humans now do not grow their third molars. Indicating the wisdom teeth may be evolving out of existence.


  • Appendix: modern humans have absolutely no use for their Appendix. Most scientists agree with Charles Darwin’s notion that the appendix was useful for processing cellulose, found in the earlier leaf rich diet. Over evolutionary changes, the appendix is likely to stay for a very long time, doing absolutely nothing.


  • The Coccyx: commonly known as the Tailbone. A remnant of, the earlier tail. A tail was handy for gripping and swinging in trees. A tailbone has no such use in modern man.

  • Goose Bumps: Modern humans get goose bumps when they are scared, cold or angry. Many animals also get goose bumps for the same reason. Goose bumps are what makes animal fur and hair stand on end when they are startled, cold or angry. When cold, it is this that creates warmth and insulation between the hairs.


Goose Bumps were handy in the early human evolutionary process when humans wore no clothes and instead had a natural fur coat, but no particular purpose in modern humans.

Cretaceous Origins Of Man And Mammals

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The evolution of man would have undoubtedly begun during the late Cretaceous period, 65 million years ago, the time the first Mammals appeared on Earth. The early mammals of the late cretaceous were small burrowing creatures, not unlike today’s mice, others growing to a size comparable to modern domestic cats, that were nocturnal in behaviour, to avoid the much larger Dinosaurs that were beginning to become extinct by the end of the Cretaceous period.

The mass extinction marking the end of the Dinosaur era was the beginning of the advance of mammals to the great apes, then ultimately, humans.

Distinctly Human: An Evolutionary Journey.

Evolution: Work In Progress.

Age Of The Dinosaur: The Rise and Demise.

Cretaceous Mammals
The early mammals of the late cretaceous were small burrowing creatures, not unlike today’s mice, others growing to a size comparable to modern domestic cats

The earliest primate fossils appear in the Paleocene period, 55 million years ago. The Hominidae, or Great Apes, diverged from the Hylobatidae or ape family 15-20 million years ago. 14 million years ago, Orangutans were evolving from the hominidae family. Early hominid species, the Ardipithecus coming around about 4-5 million years ago. The chimpanzee and gorilla diverged at the same time. Early hominids continued to diversify into Ardipithecus then Australopithecus then later the Homo genus.

During Charles Darwin’s time, scientists believed early humans and apes evolved from an early common ancestor. Independent analysis during the twentieth century has confirmed this with anatomical comparisons between humans, chimpanzees, gorillas and bonobos. The findings confirming, that humans and apes did indeed evolve from the same early common ancestors as apes and today, share much of their DNA.

Today, humans are still 98 percent chimpanzee. This does tend to lead to some confusion however. Although humans and chimpanzees do share certain DNA, humans are not descendent from chimpanzees. But, they do share an earlier common ancestor.

Less than 8 million years ago, a common ancestor split into different lineages. Early hominids and apes began their own independent diversification or changes, then throughout the next 6 million years, continuing their own evolutionary process eventually becoming human and ape.


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MitochondriaMitochondria are organelles and contain their own DNA. In general, Known as the energy-generating powerhouse of eukaryotes, where metabolism takes place. Also with several other jobs such as oxidation of fatty acids, amino acid metabolism and the assembly of iron-sulphur clusters. They are cemented or bound by two membranes, the innermost being unfolded to form singular that takes characteristic shapes such as paddle, flat or tube shapes.

Mitochondria, is an ancestral characteristic of eukaryotes. Modern Mitochondria contains every bacterial cell known. During reproduction, the mitochondria is passed down through to the offspring by the mother.

A History Of Life On Earth.

Distinctly Human: An Evolutionary Journey.

Evolution: Work In Progress.

The origin of the Eukaryotic cell is considered a milestone for the evolution of life, since they made possible complex cells and multi cellular organisms. After this point many new groups were created, including the divergence of invertebrates and vertebrates, 670 million years ago. From these many groups, it is said that they have evolved to present day organisms.

Happy Birthday Charles Darwin.

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Today, we celebrate the birthday of the most revolutionary biological scientist ever. Charles Darwin.

February 12, 1809 was the Day English Naturalist and biologist Charles Darwin was born at the Darwin family home, The Mount, Shrewsbury, in Shropshire, England. To Robert and Susannah Darwin.

Initially, Charles Darwin chose to follow a medical career, at Edinburgh, later changing to divinity at Cambridge. In 1831, Darwin was convinced by Professor Henslow at Cambridge, to join the scientific survey ship, Beagle, taking in the Southern Oceans, the South American coast and Australia with Captain Robert Fitzroy.

Darwin... Humans

Darwins work in Biology, became the foundation scientific scientific theory on modern evolutionary studies.

Initially rocking the establishment and religious beliefs in Victorian English with his theory that all modern life, including animals and humans originated from a common ancestor. HIs theory on natural selection appealed to professional scientists to become the very foundation recognised theory on evolutionary studies.

Evolution by natural selection is no longer a theory. It is the standard model that is recognised on how all life has diversified or changed over the years, originating from a common ancestor. Diversifying into different lineages, then different species and advancing into the modern life we see all over the world today, through natural selection. Favouring any genetic changes that benefit future generations for changing environments.

Distinctly Human: An Evolutionary Journey.

Origins: The Universe, Everything and Evolution.

Charles Darwin certainly was not the first to realise that species diversify and change over time. He was how- ever, the first to collect enough evidence and so formulating his theory on evolution, through his book, Origin Of Species. – By Means of Natural Selection.

An overwhelming amount of evidence has been collected since Darwin’s time, to the extent that no argument since has successfully refuted Darwin’s claims. ‘Origin Of Species, By Means Of Natural Selection’, has become the standard explanation for life on Earth, from its origins to modern times.

Charles Darwin died on April 19, 1882. He was honoured in June, 1909, by more than four hundred officials and scientists who met in Cambridge, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of On The Origins Of Species, and of Darwin’s one-hundredth Birthday.

Chromosomal Adam, Mitochondrial Eve.

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Chromosomal Adam

To begin with, I would like to point out a misconception held by creationists that the existence of Chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve is proof that Scientists have admitted to their claim that all humans originated from the Biblical claim of Adam and Eve. This is a fallacy, as science relies of evidence, which can be tested and proved, not mythology or cultural beliefs.

Although the mitochondrial Eve is scientific proof that all existing humans did evolve from one female, does not assume that a chromosomal Adam existed at the same time as the mitochondrial Eve. It also does not assume that the mitochondria Eve was the only female existing at that time. In fact, there were tens of thousands of other females existing at that time. The chromosomal Adam actually existed fifty thousand to eighty thousand years after the mitochondrial Eve. The mitochondrial Eve was the originator to the human X chromosome and Adam is responsible for the Y chromosome in modern humans.

Chromosomal Adam gets its name from the Biblical Adam, and does however cause misconceptions. Chromosomal Adam was not and did not need to be the first male. He in fact lived with thousands of other males, including his father, The only difference between this Adam and all the other males of his time, No other males produced an unbroken male line leading to modern humans. Only his descendents survived. Chromosomal Adam is responsible for the Y chromosome all males possess in their mitochondria to this day.

Chromosomal Adam lived around one hundred and forty two thousand years ago. Contrary to creationists wish, Chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve would not have met during their life times.


DNA Double Helix

Mitochondrial Eve

Mitochondria Eve: is the most recent maternal linear ancestor, not the most recent common ancestor

Chromosomal Adam: is the most recent paternal linear ancestor, not the most recent common ancestor

The genetic material, known as the DNA in a cells nucleus controls the cell. It brings in nutrients from various parts of the body. Then makes hormones, proteins and other chemicals. The cytoplasmic matrix, or the cytoplasm contains tiny organelles that are commonly referred to as Mitochondria, which are past down from generation to generation by the mother, which are commonly referred to as “energy factories” of the cell.

Distinctly Human: An Evolutionary Journey.

Evolution: Work In Progress.

The field of human genetics, refer to mitochondrial Eve as the most common maternal ancestor, or the matrilineal ancestor of modern humans. Or, all living humans evolved from mitochondrial Eve on their mothers side, as the Mitochondrial DNA every human possesses is descended from their mothers, including the Y chromosome by definition, although the chromosomal Adam and mitochondrial Eve lived thousands of years apart.

Ancestors to modern humans were evolving into their own distinct species two hundred thousand years ago. This is the exact time that mitochondrial Eve existed. Mitochondrial eve most likely lived in east Africa, as the first Homo sapiens were becoming distinct from their earlier ancestor and other human sub-species.

Mitochondrial Eve existed earlier than the ancestor of Homo heidelbergensis and before the emergence of Homo neanderthalensis and before the migration out of Africa.

It is relatively easy to trace the lineage back to mitochondrial Eve. The mitochondrial DNA is traced unmixed from mother to children of both sexes back through the generations through the maternal side, until the DNA lineage converges. Mitochondrial DNA accumulates mutations every three thousand five hundred years on average. DNA mutations are the driving force for the evolutionary process. A certain number of variations will survive and pass onto modern lineages as a distinct lineage.


Lamarck, The Evolutionary Revolutionary.

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Lamarck may have been an evolutionary revolutionary.

By the nineteenth century, and certainly by Charles Darwin’s time, varying theories of evolution existed. In fact, the concept of evolution was well established to a point, different evolutionary explanations were a common talking point over the dinner table of Victorian England and many parts of Europe, as different theories saw the light of day, then died out as these theories did not stand the scrutiny of previous discoveries and findings. One of these theories was actually developed by Charles Darwin’s grandfather, Erasmus Darwin.

In 1801, a French scientist, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck was developing his own theory of evolution.

Lamarck’s theory followed two main points. The first being:-

• The Law of use and Disuse. And,
• The Law of Inheritance Of acquired Characteristics.

Lamarck’s theory stated: Characteristics, which are used more and more by an organism, become stronger and bigger. Those that are not used, eventually disappear. And any improved organism is passed on to its offspring.

Lamarck's Giraffes.

His theory of inheritance of acquired characteristics is reliant on species changing and adapting on what they want and need. And, any changes are passed onto their offspring. For instance, Lamarck believed Elephants originally had short trunks. But, as food became scarce at lower levels, they stretched their trunks to reach the available food. These changes were inherited by their offspring until the trunk continued to increase in length. Lamarck believed the same occurred with Giraffes, who stretched their necks from need of food from a higher source, until their necks grew in length to what we now know of Giraffes.

Evolution: Work In Progress.

Distinctly Human: An Evolutionary Journey.

According to Lamarck, the human body parts that are now not used, such as the Appendix and small toe will eventually evolve out of existence, as the adaptations over time will also be inherited by their offspring. This theory can also bear true to the wisdom teeth, which I pointed out earlier that are now evolving out of existence.

Lamarck’s theory holds some credibility. Until you consider the continued existence of simple organisms. Lamarck’s theory suggests, if true, simple organisms will evolve out of existence. His theory has no explanation for the continued existence of these simple organisms in the modern world. According to Lamark’s theory, they should have evolved out of existence by now.

Cue: Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, which has an explanation on the continued existence of simple organisms.

Stromatolites: Oxygen Factories For Early Earth.

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The oldest known fossils for any primitive form of life is a bacterial form, known as Stromatolites, dating back over three billion years. Stromatolites can be described in simplistic terms, such as a laminated rock, formed by the growth of blue-green algae or. Cyanobacteria microbes. Stromatolites formed in shallow waters by trapping and binding of sedimentary grains by microfilms of microorganisms.

A Biofilm is composed of a densely packed group of microorganisms. Stromatolites take on various forms or shapes, including conical, stratiform, branching, dome, and columnar types. Some of the oxygen was stimulated by the sun as ultraviolet radiation to form the ozone, which collected in a layer near the upper part of the atmosphere. The ozone layer absorbs a significant amount of the ultraviolet radiation that once passed through the atmosphere. Without the ozone layer ultraviolet radiation bombarding the land and sea, would have caused unsustainable levels of mutations in exposed cells.

Stromatolites in the foreground of a primitive Earth.

Stromatolites are primitive organisms. Lacking a cellular nucleus and thrived in shallow, aquatic environments, and built reefs in much the same way as coral does now. The fossil record for Stromatolite spans an extremely long time in Earths history, about Four billion years with the organism possibly occupying every environment on Earth and playing a major role in the evolution of the Earths environment.

An oxygen rich atmosphere, from stromatolites, represents Earth’s third atmosphere. There is substantial proof that the rich oxygen atmosphere mixed with the iron-oxide layers in the geological strata, would have turned the oceans green. Oxygen was toxic. Much life on Earth died out, as a result of its level’s rise in what is known as the Oxygen Catastrophe.

A History Of Life On Earth.

Beginnings: The Earth And Life.

Resistant forms survived and thrived. Some developed the ability to use oxygen, to increase their metabolism and obtain more energy, from the same food. Today, Stromatolites are almost extinct in both marine and non- marine environments. Modern stromatolites were discovered in Shark Bay, Australia in 1956, and throughout Western Australia, in both marine and non- marine environments. Moreover in some other localities such as Yellowstone National Park, the Bahamas and the Indian Ocean, modern Stromatolites are mostly found in conditions with large saline levels that prevent animal grazing. The oldest fossil record of Stromatolite in microbial origin, dating back 2,724 billion years.

Prokaryotes may obtain energy from inorganic compounds, such as hydrogen sulphide. This enables prokaryotes to thrive in harsh environments, as cold as the snow surface of Antarctica and as hot as undersea hydrothermal vents and land-based hot springs.

The Evolution Of The Eye During The Cambrian Was A Major Step.

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The Cambrian evolution of the eye from a simple photo-receptor was a major advancement in evolution.

The Cambrian period, that lasted 53 million years and ended 485 million years ago saw a vast increase in diverse forms of life. Commonly referred to as “The Cambrian Explosion, the period introduced many complex life forms from simple forms to the direct ancestors to the dinosaur that would later rule the world and ultimately introduce the very first mammals. Many permanent changes were introduced into the evolutionary process.

One of the major changes in evolution during the Cambrian explosion was the eye. British evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, suggests the eye would have first evolved as a mucus, covered photoreceptor already with a primitive optic nerve or, eye spot, that could detect quality of light, ambient light brightness and distinguish between light and dark.

Cambrian evolution of the eyeEyespots are common in all unicellular organisms, which includes the euglena. The euglena’s eyespot, called a stigma, is a small patch of red pigment, which shades a collection of light sensitive crystals together with the leading flagellum.

The eyespot allows the organism to move in response to light and can distinguish day from night. The movement is often toward the light to assist in photosynthesis.

Over evolutionary time, the eye would have required more cells to improve primitive sight. The cells would have created a shallow dent, or a shallow cup to develop a slight curve to allow the light shining on one side, to register in the other side of the curve. This simple method would provide the ability to determine the direction from where the light comes, and to detect the shadow of any predator.

Over time, the curvature of the eye would deepen enough so the top of the curvature would have closed sufficiently to form a small opening. This advance would have made it possible to detect shapes and movement, such an eye would have produced an upside down image but it would have been a definite improvement.

A History Of Life On Earth.

Transitions: From The Oceans To Land.

The next step in the evolution of the eye would be to develop a jelly type of mucus over the small opening of the eye cavity. This mucus would have hardened over a short time and created the lens which provided a sharper, clearer image.

Once these fundamental mechanisms are in place there is the ability for a rapid evolution on the eye, through natural selection, over generations. The quality of vision and further modifications to the eye would have been relatively rapid, resulting in the complex eye structure of various animals on land and in the oceans.

Considering the relative short life cycles of the simpler aquatic organisms, the evolutionary process of the eyes would have progressed through 400,000 generations, meaning the eye would have evolved through less than half a million years. In evolutionary time scale this is a rapid development.

The eye is not perfect by any means. For example, the nerve that carries the visual signal to the brain is in front of the retina, which can obstruct the vision. The human eye also has a blind spot. If a person places a pencil at a five-degree angle to the visual sight, the eye cannot detect the tip of the pencil, hence, a blind spot.

An octopus has better vision than humans.

Hypothesis On The Formation Of Our Moon.

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A few scientific hypothesis, exist and are debated on, how the Moon was formed about one hundred million years later than the Solar System and Earth were formed:-

Capture Hypothesis; suggesting the Moon didn’t form near the Earth and was instead, captured in the Earth’s gravitation pull maintaining its current orbit.

Giant Impact hypothesis; suggest another, Mars size planet (Thea) was on the same orbit as the Earth before colliding. This catastrophic event, sent an enormous amount of debris into Earth’s orbit, which coalesced and formed the Moon. This notion is the most supported as it helps to explain why the Earth has heavier elements than the Moon.

A History Of Life On Earth.

Beginnings: The Earth And Life.

Co-Formation’ hypothesis; suggest the Earth and the Moon formed together in the same solar nebula, with the moon remaining the same orbit as today. There are a few problems with that idea however. If the Moon formed with the Earth, the moon will have the same consistency as the Earth. The Moon is deficient of iron. This explanation doesn’t explain why the Moon formed one hundred million years after the Earth.

Earth and Thea collision hypothesis
Most astronomers now support the Giant Impact hypothesis as it helps to explain why the Moon is younger than the Earth. It ex-plains the Moon’s lower density and lack of Iron and why the Moon is not on the same orbital plane as the Earth. It also explains why the Earth is now on a tilt of 23.5 degrees and why we have seasonal changes


Altruism May Not Be A Unique Human Trait.

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Altruism has long been considered a unique human trait. That is, until a news release from the University of Vienna seems to be suggestion strong evidence of bird altruism among Azure-winged Magpies.

Magpies are not generally known for their generosity. Their habit of stealing shiny objects and their sometimes aggressive behaviour toward other species, who venture too close to their nests and young offspring tends to cloud over any other impression of them.

Azure0winged magpie

Researchers have discovered Azure-winged magpies show a tendency to provide food for others of their species without them begging. And, sometimes providing food without any reward for themselves.

A team of cognitive biologists, lead by Lisa Horn and Jorg Massen from the University of Vienna, claim there are very few other animal species that display such human-like traits and behaviour. Their findings were published in Biology Letters, a peer reviewed Scientific Journal.

They provided food to their group members spontaneously and without the other birds begging them. “This so-called ‘proactive prosociality’ has long been believed to be a human hallmark,” explains lead author Lisa Horn. It was however suggested that cooperative child rearing promoted this tendency to benefit others without expecting anything in return in early humans. In line with the hypothesis, researchers also found evidence for prosocial behavior in cooperatively breeding primates. “But so far results from other animal taxa were missing,” says Horn.

Evolution: Work In Progress.

Distinctly Human: An Evolutionary Journey.

Horn and colleagues tested prosociality in a cooperatively breeding bird species — the azure-winged magpie — using an ingenious experimental design. By landing on a perch, the birds operated a seesaw mechanism, which brought food into reach of their group members. If the birds wanted to grab the food themselves, they would have had to leave the perch and the seesaw would tilt back, thereby moving the food out of reach again. Even though the birds thus could not get anything for themselves the magpies continued to deliver food to their conspecifics across all sessions and at similarly high rates as humans and cooperatively breeding primates. Also, the birds only operated the apparatus when their group members could actually obtain the food, and not in a control condition where access to the food was blocked.

“Our results seem to support the hypothesis that raising offspring cooperatively may have promoted the emergence of prosocial tendencies not only in humans, but also in other animals. Further tests of non-cooperatively breeding birds are, however, needed,” concludes Horn.

Oxygen Was Vital For Complex Life.

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Was oxygen vital for complex life?

Why did algae, bacteria and other simple life exist in the Earths oceans for more than 3 billion years, just before the Cambrian period, 550 million years ago?

It seems the low levels of oxygen in the water was not sufficient to support skeletal animals until the period that has generally become known as the, Cambrian Explosion introduced a massive diversification of different animal and insect types alive on Earth.

Cyanobacteria, early life not complex

A laminated rock, formed by the growth of blue-green algae or. Cyanobacteria microbes. Stromatolites are known to have created the first oxygen over 3 billion years ago. Many of the very first simple life forms on earth became extinct as the levels of oxygen increased. These extinct life was formed when oxygen was scarce. Oxygen proved toxic to the first microbes.

A team of geochemists, palaeoecologists and geologists from UCL and the universities of Edinburgh, Leeds and Cambridge, as well as the Geological Survey of Namibia, analysed the chemical elemental composition of rock samples from the ancient seafloor in the Nama Group – a group of extremely well-preserved rocks in Namibia that are abundant with fossils of early Cloudina, Namacalathus and Namapoikia animals.

The researchers found levels of cerium and iron detected in the rocks showed that low-oxygen conditions occurred between well-oxygenated surface waters and fully oxygen free deep waters. Although abundant in well-oxygenated environments, early skeletal animals did not occupy oxygen-impoverished regions of the shelf, demonstrating that oxygen availability was a key requirement for the development of early animal-based marine environments.

Dr Rosalie Tostevin completed the study analyses as part of her PhD with UCL Earth Sciences, and is now in the Department of Earth Sciences at Oxford University. She said: “The question of why it took so long for complex animal life to appear on Earth has puzzled scientists for a long time. One argument has been that evolution simply doesn’t happen very quickly, but another popular hypothesis suggests that a rise in the level of oxygen in the oceans gave simple life-forms the fuel they needed to evolve skeletons, mobility and other typical features of modern animals.”

A History Of Life On Earth.

Changes: Early Life And A Changing World.

She went on to say: “Although there is geochemical evidence for a rise in oxygen in the oceans around the time of the appearance of more complex animals, it has been really difficult to prove a causal link. By teasing apart waters with high and low levels of oxygen, and demonstrating that early skeletal animals were restricted to well-oxygenated waters, we have provided strong evidence that the availability of oxygen was a key requirement for the development of these animals. However, these well-oxygenated environments may have been in short supply, limiting habitat space in the ocean for the earliest animals.”


Professor Graham Shields-Zhou (UCL Earth Sciences), and Dr Tostevin’s PhD supervisor, said: “We honed in on the last 10 million years of the Proterozoic Eon as the interval of Earth’s history when today’s major animal groups first grew shells and churned up the sediment, and found that oxygen levels were important to the relationship between environmental conditions and the early development of animals.”

Darwin Said – Consider Your Hands.

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Darwin had a simple message for the skeptics of his theory on natural selection. That message was – Consider your hands.

His simple message, still stands true in todays world with the misinformation and misunderstanding of the now famous theory, outlined in his 1859 publication, On The Origins Of Species: By Way Of Natural Selection.

Darwin wrote “What can be more curious, than that the hands of a man, formed for grasping, that of a mole for digging, the leg of the horse, the paddle of the porpoise, and the wing of the bat, should all be constructed on the same pattern, and should include similar bones, in the same relative positions?” His method of explanation was, humans, moles, porpoises, horses and bats all shared a common ancestor. Evolving, using the same limbs and digits for different tasks, Revealing their kinship.

To the human eye, there is not much similarity between the human hand, and the fin of a fish. The human hand is at the end of the arm and the fish fin protrudes from the body. This is what made Darwin’s comment revolutionary for a Victorian era naturalist, who relied on a simple microscope.

Similarities are, the human hand and the fish fin develop from cartilage and contain blood vessels. This type of tissue is called endochondral bone.

Natural selection. handsThe fish fin has this endochondral bone at its base. The fish fin itself consists of thin rays, made up of a different tissue called derma bone. Dermal bone does not have cartilage and blood vessels. The fossil record clearly shows we share our ancestry with a finned fish that lived 430 million years ago. Known as Tetrapods who colonised the land about 360 million years ago.

A University of Chicago, paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Dr Neil Shubin, has been researching fish and mice. How they develop from embryos. There embryos start out looking similar. A head, tail and…. not much else. But, then, two pairs of buds develop on their flanks. In fish, these buds grow into fins, in mice, they grow into limbs. In recent decades, Dr Shubins researchers discovered genes that govern this development. The Hoxa-13 and the Hox-13.

A History Of Life On Earth.

Evolution: Work In Process.

When these genes are shut down, the mice developed normal long bones in their legs. But, their wrist and ankle bones did not appear. They did not grow any digits. This discovery suggested that Hoxa-13 and Hox-13 genes tell certain cells in the tetrapod limb bud that they will develop into hands and feet.

In the 1990’s, no-one knew how to shut down genes in fish embryos. That has changed in recent decades. “But we didn’t have the means to do it until technology caught up with our aspirations,” Dr. Shubin said.

Before 10,000 Years Ago, We All Had Brown Eyes.

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According to new research, originally, before 10,000 years ago, we all had brown eyes. The research was published in the Journal of Human Genetics.

A genetic mutation affecting the OCA2 gene in our chromosomes resulted in a “switch” that literally turned off the ability to produce brown eyes. Danish Geneticist, Professor Hans Eiberg from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, at the University Of Copenhagen said.

plave-ociThe “switch” which is situated adjacent the OCA2 gene, does not switch off the gene entirely. But instead limits the production of melanin in the iris. Presenting a situation where it dilutes the brown eyes to blue. Humans would be without melanin completely, dictating the colour of the hair, skin and eyes if the gene was completely turned off.

Colouration of the eyes is dependant on the amount of melanin in the iris. Blue eyed individuals have a small variation of melanin. Prof Eiberg says: “From this we can conclude that all blue-eyed individuals are linked to the same ancestor,” He continued: “They have all inherited the same switch at exactly the same spot in their DNA.” The OCA2 gene can be definitively traced back to an ancestor living in the area of the Black Sea about 8.000 years ago.

When blue-eyed peoples from Jordan, Denmark and Turkey were examined, their genetic difference was traced back to the maternal lineage according to Prof. Eiberg’s team. 95% of Europeans in Scandinavian countries have blue eyes. Along with a greater variation of hair and skin colour pigmentations.

Europe has a wider range of hair colour and skin pigmentation than any other continent on earth, Europe was only colonised a few thousand years ago, so these mutations are recent.

Distinctly Human: An Evolutionary Journey.

Evolution: Work In Progress.

The mutation of brown eyes to blue represents neither a positive nor a negative mutation. It is one of several mutations such as hair colour, baldness, freckles and beauty spots, which neither increases nor reduces a human’s chance of survival. As Professor Eiberg says, “it simply shows that nature is constantly shuffling the human genome, creating a genetic cocktail of human chromosomes and trying out different changes as it does so.”

A big question must be asked. How did the human species who had brown eyes, 10,000 years ago come to have 20 – 40% Europeans having blue eyes today? Maybe a comment from John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin-Madison provides an easy answer: “This gene does something good for people. It makes them have more kids”.

3.7 Billion Year Old Fossils Found. The Oldest Yet.

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Australian scientists have found fossils dating back 3.7 billion years. Believed to be the oldest ever found.

Imagine being alive in a world where the continents are black, the sea is green and the sky is orange? According to new findings in Greenland. life existed on earth 3.7 billion years ago.

The earth 3.7 billion years ago was a different world to what we have today. Oxygen was just beginning to form and the atmosphere was still forming. The blue of the colour spectrum which represents the sky colour would not exist. But, the colour orange would.

In a part of Greenland that is newly melted, scientists have found the remnants of a microbial community, that lived on the ocean floor all that long ago in the Earths history. According to a study published in the journal, Nature.

Co author Martin Van Kranendonk of the University of New South Wales and director of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology said The discovery shows life may have formed quicker and earlier than once thought, about half a billion years after earth formed, he said, and that may also give hope for life forming elsewhere, such as Mars.

“It gives us an idea how our planet evolved and how life gained a foothold”, Van Kranendonk said.

Origins: The Universe, Everything and Evolution.

A History Of Life On Earth.

Scientists first thought, it would take about a billion years for life to form after the earths molten surface cooled significantly after the earth formed. The newly found fossils are too complex to have developed soon after the planets first life forms, Van Kranendonk said.

In a rocky outcrop that was once covered in ice. but melted after an extremely warm spring, the Australian team found Stromatolites.

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Stromatolites can be described in simplistic terms, such as a laminated rock, formed by the growth of blue-green algae or, Cyanobacteria microbes. Stromatolites formed in shallow waters by trapping and binding of sedimentary grains by microfilms of microorganisms.

3.7 billion year
Ancient Stromatolites in Shark Bay, Australia

The byproduct of Stromatolites is Oxygen. The fossil record for Stromatolite spans an extremely long time in Earths history, about Four billion years with the organism possibly occupying every environment on Earth and playing a major role in the evolution of the Earths environment.

An oxygen rich atmosphere, from stromatolites, represents Earth’s third atmosphere. There is substantial proof that the rich oxygen atmosphere mixed with the iron-oxide layers in the geological strata, would have turned the oceans green.

NASA astrobiologist, Abigail Allwood said, The dating seems about right. But, she remains unconvinced about the findings, adding: she said the evidence wasn’t conclusive enough that it was life and not some geological quirk.

Modern Humans Evolving From Apes Is A Myth

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Modern humans evolving from apes is a myth that persists to this day.

Humans did not evolve from apes, or any other primate known in the world today. That is a point that needs clarification. No evolutionary biologist, scientist or even Charles Darwin ever said they did. Man evolving from apes was something invented by the religious groups, who oppose the evolution concept and refuse to accept evolution as the accepted, standard model that is recognised on how all life has diversified during a very long, slow process over millions of years. Originating from a common ancestor.

Evolution is the process that favours any genetic change that benefits changing environments. So, changes to DNA or Genes cannot be major rapid changes. Genes are the very foundation of who we are as a species, as a living organism. Such changes can only be a slow, gradual process, taking hundreds of years for the slightest, smallest change to occur.

Take for instance, the very first true human example found so far. Australopithecus aferensis, generally referred to as Lucy. Lucy is 3 million years old. That’s well over 300,000 generations from her, and you and me. in excess of 300,000 generations of extremely small changes between her, 3 million years ago and us, in the modern world. 300,000 generations is a very long time for the small genetic changes or the evolutionary changes that have taken place between the first true human example and modern man.

Distinctly Human: An Evolutionary Journey.

A History Of Life On Earth.

Evolution: Work In Progress.

With such small, slow, drawn out changes over such lengths of time. The general interpretation of a Missing Link, is not going to happen. Such a Missing Link, is not going to be found, a missing link of skeletal remains of a half man, half ape is, well. Impossible. Such a missing link does not follow the known laws of evolution.

Modern humans did evolve from a common ancestor of humans and apes, up to 8 to 9 million years ago. What were to become humans followed one evolutionary path and what were to become the various ape species of today, followed their own evolutionary paths. That common ancestor has not been found yet, we have no idea what they looked like or how they lived. That elusive common ancestor is what is referred to as, The Missing Link. It is not some half man, half monkey or half ape creature.

Genetic Modification May Be The Future For Evolution

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Genetic ModificationGenetic modification, or, Genetic engineering has been a practice of humans for thousands of years. Selective genetic modification is responsible for the many modern breeds of dog, Cats and many other domestic and agricultural breeds of animal alive and benefitting humans in many different ways.

Genetic modification, or the direct manipulation of the genome of organisms by the use of biotechnology, specifically intended to change the genetic makeup of cells, including the transfer of genes within and across species boundaries to produce improved or novel organisms. New DNA is inserted into the host genome, by first identifying, isolating the genetic material, then copying the genetic material to generate a new genetic sequence of the host. This can be achieved by recombining the genetic makeup of species or breeds.

Plants, animals or micro organisms that have changed through genetic engineering are termed genetically modified organisms, or GMO.

The controversy surrounding these genetic alteration is increasing as technology and the practice improves, Raising questions into its acceptance as genetic modification is increasing around the modification of DNA with humans.

The human embryo is the very beginning of human life. From the fourth day after conception, the human embryo is a multicellular diploid eukaryote, this is defined as the developing organism until after the eighth week of fertilisation. Then the unborn baby is generally referred to as the foetus.

The first test tube baby, as they were referred to was created in 1978 by Dr. Jeff Steinberg, at his clinic for in vitro fertilisation in Los Angeles, California. Since then, he has become instrumental in the creation of many new babies.

Distinctly Human: An Evolutionary Journey.

Time Of Humans: The New Legacy.

Over recent decades, the creation of designer babies is undergoing perfection in technique. Such clinics as Dr Steinberg’s are routinely screening embryos for genetic diseases. Some are beginning to offer prospective parents the option of cosmetic traits. Such as hair colour, eye colour and the sex of the child.

It is with such designer babies, the way the world is heading. As the technology and procedures improve. This will most definitely be the way of the future for those who wish to choose traits and the sex of their offspring.

An ability to manipulate our genes while selecting offspring with such procedures could severely alter the course of our evolution, in the search for physical perfection.

Are We Still Evolving Through Natural Selection?

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Natural Selection

Since Charles Darwin published his masterpiece publication – On The Origin Of Species: By Means Of Natural Selection, in 1859, scientists have been wondering if we are still evolving through the natural method first outlined by Darwin – Natural Selection.

About three and a half billion years ago, life began.

Most of the first life were, single celled organisms, some bacteria.

Animals appear on the face of earth about six hundred million years ago.

Then about seven million years ago, our first ancestors, the first hominins appeared.

Then about two hundred thousand years ago, we, the human species first appeared.

On an evolutionary time scale, humans have only just appeared among all the other species and life forms that have ever existed on Earth.

Two and a half thousand years is just the blink of an eye compared to the three and a half billion years life has been evolving on the planet.

The human species emerged on Earth about two hundred thousand years ago.

About sixty thousand years ago, we emerged out of Africa and spread to every part of the planet.

On the way, something happened to us that could suggest, the normal or usual laws of evolution may no longer be applicable to us.

Tens of thousands of years ago, humans began protecting themselves from the environment and living in communities, something no other species has ever done before.

They began to make life easier by inventing things, such as tools, shelters and other objects that has definitely helped to make us who we are.

Our ancestors made themselves clothes and fires to keep them warm, while other species developed coats of fur and some other species such as polar bears developed thick coats and blabber to keep them warm.

Distinctly Human: An Evolutionary Journey.

Time Of Humans: The New Legacy.

Humans are definitely the result of natural selection.

But, thousands of years ago, we began making barriers that protected us from the harsh realities of the environment and other dangers that pose a threat to other species with the use of simple technologies that do not exist anywhere else in the natural world.

Modern Humans Adapted

Have these barriers and buffers we have made for ourselves, stopped us from evolving further and some have excluded us from natural selection?

But then, if that were true, we would all be the same colour with the same hair colour. So that cannot be the case that we have stopped evolving. But, it could also be a sign of how we have evolved separately, with our own cultures and traditions. And of course, that is only superficial. So, fits with-in the range of regional adaptations and variations, outlined in the theory of Natural Selection.

Speaking Of Multicultural Drift.

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Multicultural drift is changing the future of our species, in a way never before seen through natural selection.

Globalisation and Capitalism are two main drivers of change the world is experiencing in the twenty first century, forcing more and more people to seek new lands to migrate into and spread their roots for future generations of family. Conflicts and unstable economies are projected to increase this flow of refugees seeking their freedoms and safety.

As the face of the worlds human populations change through multicultural drift, so to will the future face of evolution by natural selection, driving that change.

Cultural indicators continually drive evolution around within short lengths of time as cultures change. Cultures are rapidly changing as multiculturalism increases worldwide. This could quite successfully be argued as a cultural explosion as cultures that have previously been isolated, are now increasingly free to mix.

Only a massive environmental change will send evolution onto a new path. These significant environmental changes will take natural selection on to a path that will ensure by triggering genetic changes in future populations.

Where evolution is taking us now, at this particular point is unknown. Only a rapid environmental shift will alter the future of our natural selection. Culture plays a major part and culture is exploding at this particular time.

Natural selection will continue to change with any significant shift with culture. Culture is a main part of the environment. We may not see this, as we are part way through it. But, over all, it will make up a significant change.

Distinctly Human: An Evolutionary Journey.

Such is with evolution, in particular natural selection. Changes are so slow and subtle, generations do not notice these changes. But over an extended time period, they are very noticeable as comparative to earlier generations.

Antarctic Sea Ice Is Increasing.

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Global Climate Change predicts the global climate is changing. All the scientific predictions claim the global climate is warming.

But, hang on. scientific data is claiming the Antarctic ice is increasing as the Arctic ice shelves are decreasing. So, according the the climate change deniers or skeptics, the global climate cannot be warming.

Global Climate Change has taken over where Climate Warming finished off. Climate Warming confused the deniers and skeptics. And, to a limit, Global Climate Change does not help the deniers with their comprehension capabilities. It seems anything will confuse those who simply choose the reject anything they cannot comprehend.

Global Climate Change predicts just what the name infers. Global Climate. Not regional climate.

Antarctic Climate
Image, NASA

Global Climate infers the entire planet. Not regional variation that can and will be affected with varying seasonal changes. Global Climate Change does not suggest seasonal change will no longer exist. Summer will still be followed with Autumn (Fall), Winter will still be followed with Spring. Arctic ice will decrease in the northern hemisphere summer and increase again in the following Winter. But, overall, the total amount of ice will and is decreasing, at a fast rate. NASA satellite data is confirming the decrease in ice shelves since the late1970’s, with an increased melting trend during the 2000’s

As with all Climate predictions, the overall global climate is warming. Some regions will seem to defy these predictions by deviantly going against the trend. Some regions will trend towards colder winters, when some other regions will trend towards warmer winters.

Antarctic ice seems to be defying the global trend. This is not all that surprising, as the old adage still applies – With every action, there is a reaction. As the Arctic ice continues to melt at an increased rate, the Antarctic ice will in most probability, continue to increase as the sea levels rise.

Antarctic sea ice decrease
September 2012 witnessed two opposite records concerning sea ice. Two weeks after the Arctic Ocean’s ice cap experienced an all-time summertime low for the satellite era (left), Antarctic sea ice reached a record winter maximum extent (right). But sea ice in the Arctic has melted at a much faster rate than it has expanded in the Southern Ocean, as can be seen in this image by comparing the 2012 sea ice levels with the yellow outline, which in the Arctic image represents average sea ice minimum extent from 1979 through 2010 and in the Antarctic image shows the median sea ice extent in September from 1979 to 2000. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio and NASA Earth Observatory/ Jesse Allen

NASA data suggests the upward trend in the Antarctic, however, is only about a third of the magnitude of the rapid loss of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. Suggesting, the increase has little regulation on the global sea level rise as a result of the Arctic ice melt occurring in the Northern hemisphere.

Time Of Humans: The New Legacy

A History Of Life On Earth

Claire Parkinson, a senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, has referred to changes in sea ice coverage as a microcosm of global climate change. Just as the temperatures in some regions of the planet are colder than average, even in our warming world, Antarctic sea ice has been increasing and bucking the overall trend of ice loss.

“The planet as a whole is doing what was expected in terms of warming. Sea ice as a whole is decreasing as expected, but just like with global warming, not every location with sea ice will have a downward trend in ice extent,” Parkinson said.

Since the late 1970s, the Arctic has lost an average of 53,900 square kilometres (20,800 sq miles) of ice a year; the Antarctic has gained an average of 18,900 sq km (7,300 sq miles).

Pollution And Human Stupidity Still Biggest Threat To Mankind

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Pollution and human stupidity remain the biggest threats to mankind, says Professor Stephen Hawking. while referring to his concern in artificial intelligence in warfare.

“The increase in air pollution and the emission of increasing levels of carbon dioxide. We will be too late to avoid dangerous levels of global warming” says Hawking

Professor Stephen Hawking

The renowned cosmologist was speaking at the Starmass science conference in Tenerife,This year, which is themed as a tribute to his life work. Hawking is to reveal ambitious plans of using radiation patterns to map the entire known universe

It is also hoped the cosmologists work will also reveal why the nature of dark energy is causing the universe to expand more rapidly.

Professor Hawking was also commenting on his concerns about the future of artificial intelligence technologies, and specifically their primary use in weaponry.

Professor Hawking, Artificial Intelligence

“Governments seem to be engaged in an AI (Artificial Intelligence) arms race, designing planes and weapons with artificial intelligent technologies. The funding for projects directly beneficial to the human race, such as improved medical screening. seems a somewhat lower priority”, Professor Stephen Hawking said.

He went on to say “I don’t think that advances in artificial technology will necessarily be benign. Once machines reach the critical stage of being able to evolve themselves, we cannot predict whether their goals will be the same as ours”.

Before The Big Bang

Darwin Invented Natural Selection?

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Apparently, Charles Darwin invented natural selection.

Not only is that a ridiculous statement, it is obviously borne from a deep ignorance of both Darwin and the entire concept of evolution.

Did Einstein invent the increased relativistic mass (m) of a body coming from the energy of motion of the body – that is, its kinetic energy (E) – divided by the speed of light squared (c2). That equation expresses the fact that mass and energy are the same physical entity and can be changed into each other? Of cause not, the mass, kinetic energy and the speed of light already existed. Einstein simply discovered his theory of E=mc², as opposed to inventing it.

invented E=mc2

Did Isaac Newton invent gravity? Not likely as gravity has been one of the forces of nature since our planet formed. Newton simply discovered it when an apple fell off its tree.

Considering evolution had been occurring for billions of years before Darwin was born. It is ludicrous to state Darwin invented natural selection. Charles Darwin was the first naturalist to formulate a theory of natural selection. But, natural selection would have to exist before Darwin could formulate his theory of his observation and testing.

Darwin invented

At the same time Darwin was working on his theory. Another naturalist – Alfred Russel Wallace was also working on the same theory, miles apart from one another. The first actual public explanation of natural selection was a joint presentation with both Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel.

Origins: The Universe, Everything and Evolution.

Darwin gets the credit for the theory of natural selection because, he was the first documented to publish a book on the subject in 1859 – On The origin Of Species: By Way Of Natural Selection.

400ppm Is A Dubious Milestone.

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Earth has run out of monitoring stations that are recording levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, lower than 400ppm (parts per million).

The US National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced on May 23, Antarctica has hit the dubious milestone.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are now highest they have been in the last four million years.

Antarctica is 400ppm carbon

Following popular belief, the bottom of the world is always the last place to be affected. NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network Pieter Tans says:- “The frozen continent at the world’s South Pole was the last place on Earth to reach that level of carbon pollution”,

Unlike four million years ago, this time there’s “abundant and solid evidence that the carbon dioxide increase is caused entirely by human activities. Since emissions from fossil fuel burning have been at a record high during the last several years, the rate of CO² increase has also been at a record high.” he said.

The National Institute of Water And Atmospheric Research (NIWA) atmospheric scientist Sara Mikaloff-Fletche said it was a path the world had been on for “a very long time,” when the monitoring station at New Zealand’s Baring Head passed 400ppm, on 7 June. where NIWA atmospheric research scientists run a Clean Air Monitoring Station at Baring Head. at the bottom of the North Island, near Wellington.

Its important to remember, the levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide will not return to lower levels than 400ppm within our lifetimes and for millennia to come, the global average of carbon pollution will be over 400ppm.

400ppm is getting close to 450ppm
The IPCC has estimated that 450 ppm is the limit beyond which it is likely that the earth will warm by more than 2 degrees celsius, with potentially disastrous results.


“The 400ppm threshold represents an opportunity for people to recognise this landmark and understand that there is only a small amount of time to accomplish change,” Dr Mikaloff-Fletche says.

Fossil Fuel Dependence And our Atmosphere.

May Temperatures Break Global Records.

Dr. Erica Podest, “Carbon and water research scientist at NASA said: CO² concentrations haven’t been this high in millions of years. Even more alarming is the rate of increase in the last five decades and the fact that CO² stays in the atmosphere for hundreds or thousands of years. This milestone is a wake up call that our actions in response to climate change need to match the persistent rise in CO².”

“Climate change is a threat to life on Earth and we can no longer afford to be spectators”. Dr. Podest said.

Atmospheric Carbon levels in excess of 400ppm is completely new territory for humans. One thing is certain, from now on, it is going to be a rough ride.