alan skeoch
Oct. 2021
Note:  I originally wrote this article in 2018 for no particular reason.
Interest in our short time on planet earth might have been the reason.
Today the issue of Climate Change seems to be accelerating.  So 
the story below may have current interest.   It is a much shortened version of the original.  No doubt I have made mistakes in this
article so consider it an early primer rather than a definitive authority.
An article to make you wonder.

We dominate the planet earth in this year 2021. Sure.  Iinsects   outnumber  us  but we…human beings,..dominate this obscure planet in our  obscure solar system
in a universe  so  large that we cannot ever understand  its  size.   We are home  here on earth.   We move around a lot using.  for the most part,  mysterious  pools of  oil that we find here
and there beneath the earth’s surface.  Oil created by the pressure of ancient sediments on the equally ancient bodies of creatures  that once lived  on our earth millions and millions  of years
ago.   Creatures  deep in the depths  of time that once dominated the earth as we do today.  How long were these creatures around?  A  lot longer that we have been.  Millions  of years
longer than  us.  Hard to believe…very hard to believe.

7FFC5714-0B86-4079-AC9C-9B84B7193C89@hitronhub.home>” src=”blob:https://mail.google.com/10a94ebb-163a-45f8-85a0-39f6f97a9482″ alt=”Two reconstructions of Homo erectus” type=”application/x-apple-msg-attachment” class=”gmail-Apple-web-attachment gmail-Singleton” style=”opacity: 1;”>
Reconstructed faces of homo erectus, our ancient ancestor who seems to have emerged some 2 to 4.5 million years ago. (various sources)  Homo Sapiens, (ourselves in other words)  emerged from homo erectus  some 400,000 to 600,000 years ago. (various sources)
Both of  these people (term?) could walk  erect which  freed  their hands for the making of tools.  Tool making took a long time to reach  today’s incredible  sophistication.  One break point was the emergence of civilized 
society in ancient Irag some 2,000 to 3, 000 years ago.  What tool?   Lots to choose from but for the sake of argument I have chosen the pencil.  Pencil?   OK, wrong term but you will get the idea.  Ancient Sumerians  developed
a  form of writing using a sharpened  stick making a  variety of indentations on wet clay.   So the Sumerian form of a pencil, to my mind, was the break  point between a nomadic intelligent human beings and  settled civilized
human beings with more time on their hands to invent increasingly more sophisticated tools  culminating in the iPhone of today.
How  long have we been around”?  Not very long at all. Creatures from which we have  evolved were moving about on land and sea some six million years  ago.  But they were not
remotely like us really.  They just became us.   Modern humans evolved 200,000 years  ago  I  am told.   They may have looked  like us a bit.  But shocking to modern  eyes.    Creatures like us  are very  recent
wanderers through the thin atmosphere that hugs  planet earth.  Only 6,000 years ago did we emerge and  began our way to dominance.  

None of this would have happened  had  trees  and  plants not emerged first.  Green plants  breathe in CO2…extract the carbon…and  exhale oxygen.  Our atmosphere  contains the 20% oxygen that we need  to breathe.   If we climb too high on our mountain ranges,  we cannot breathe.   We die.  We  dare not delve deep into our oceans for we are unwelcome there.

Civilization as we know it today…industrial  civilization…emerged  just 200 years ago with the industrial revolution.  My oh my have we done well.  We are tool users and tool makers
par excellence.   We are also extremely vain.  Few of  us  ever think about our tenancy on this round ball hurtling through space.  Most of us think we will always  be
here…all 7 billion  of us.  Our population has doubled  in less than  100 years.  A hundred years is just a fleck of time…nothing.  

“Change,” it has been said, “is the only sure thing in life.”  Change, however, can  be very slow  when measured against the lifespan of human  beings.  Almost imperceptible really.
Changes are happening though.  I noticed  the first Opossum in Ontario just 30 years ago.   Now those sharp nosed, rat tailed, creatures are common in Ontario.  Not as  cold up here
as it used to be.  And the gingko trees, most ancient red on earth, are moving north as well.  Disconcerting things are happening.  Frogs  are disappearing.  Frogs that once
numbered in the billions sometimes  so thick on country roads that they were squished by our rubber tired  gasoline consuming transport machines.  Changes are happening.  The great 
sheets of  ice that once capped  the north and  south poles  of  planet earth are melting.  Our planet is getting hotter.  This heat is changing earth as we know it.  

Where is this going?   First, I would  like to prick  our ego inflated vanity.  And second,  having achieved my first goal, I would  like  to consider those ancient creatures
who preceded  us  millions and millions of years ago.  In particular the dinosaurs.  These huge creatures were not alone on the earth but their fossilized remains have struck  wonder
into human psyches from the first moment they were found.  For the last two centuries, while  our inventions have made life  easier for all of us, we have at the same time marvelled
at the bones, the teeth in particular, found in ancient sedimentary rocks.  This includes coal deposits.  Coal has been created by  the compressed bodies of ancient forests whose 
deaths were abruptly covered by mud and water where  they could not rot and return to the atmosphere as  rotting vegetation normally does.   In among these sedimentary layers of
rock were  the fossilized bones of creatures  once dominating the earth as  we dominate today.  

Two events have  triggered this interest on my part.  First is  my bathroom reading  material of late.  A BBC  book on the ages  of dinosaurs.  A book  that makes  my  mind soar deep  into a dark past that 
I cannot fully understand.   The second event occurred at a warehouse remainder sale on Cawthra  Road.  A salvage operation where goods gathered from bankruptcies are marketed  cheaply.
Among the goods on November 22, 2018, was a  collection of dinosaur claws…evil looking things designed  to rip flesh.   The  ancient residents of our earth was  ‘red in tooth and claw’ as
Darwinians would say.  “Survival of the Fittest’ was real and happened over millions of years. Slowly. ” 

Extinctions  happened in the deep past.  At least five major extinction events  have been  identified by earth scientists.  All five are somewhat mysterious.    the extinction event that
wiped out the dinosaurs is thought to be the arrival of a  large meteor that slammed into the Gulf  of Mexico and  covered  the earth with so  much dust that the sun could  not
break through to trigger photosynthesis denying  living creatures plants to  eat and plants to maintain a livable level of oxygen.  That happened 65 million years  ago most scientists
believe.  Other, even more devastating extinction events have occurred deeper in the past.   Just staring at the moon on a nice summer  evening or on a crisp  winter night should remind
us that we  have  been bombarded by space objects in the past.  The surface  of the moon is devoid of life…no water (or very little water frozen in its icy form)…nothing  obscures the beating it has taken…each meteor has left a mark.

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Amazing that these  vicious looking  fingers  from two ancient dinosaurs  have survived.   One is a replica  of the hooked  thumb of Boronyxm a creature  that lived  in the Early Cretaceous Period some
125 million years ago.  And the other is  the first toe of a  dinosaur familiar to us all, good  old  Tyranosaurus  Rex who gorged himself (herself) on the flesh of other dinosaurs up until his  abrupt extinction 65 million years ago. 
He (or she) was the last of the dinosaurs.  Tyranosaurus  Rex dinosaurs emerged late in the age of dinosaurs but still lived  for millions of years.  Let’s arbitrarily say TR (acronym) species existed  for two  million years…evolving 67 million years ago and terminated by that massive meteor 65 million years  ago.  Two million years TR’s scavenged flesh wherever it was found.
So what?   So  we human beings  emerged 200,000 years ago but really appeared “Human” 6,000 years. Even then we were primitive creatures.  The sophisticated  humans  who could write and 
form civilized society are 2,000 years old linked to Sumerian  civilization in modern day Iraq.   So let’s compare our longevity to that of TR.    2 million divided  bye 200,000 means we have been around only .001 years compared.
if the number 6,000 is divided  into 2 million the result is .00003.   Mere infants.   And if we chose ancient Sumer as the year we became fully evolved the number becomes .00001.   Hopefully we will live for more than  2 million years as did TR.  But the prospects  are not good.   We may be just a  flash in the pan; as they say.
POSTSCRPT:   IN case you meet a TR, remember he or she can
out run you.   Were creatures like us around in the age of dinosaurs?
Yes….our mammal ancestors were there, probably as mice like creatures which were too small for TR to want to eat.   By good luck these tiny
mammals seem to have survived the fifth extinction.  How?  I have no idea… 

A89D92F5-D276-4AD6-B7E7-865B83534810@hitronhub.home>” src=”blob:https://mail.google.com/9d8da58f-5ce9-45a2-b879-befcb4e095c6″ alt=”Tyrannosaurus by Paul Heaston” type=”application/x-apple-msg-attachment” class=”gmail-td-attachment-page-image gmail-Apple-web-attachment gmail-Singleton” style=”opacity: 1;”>Quick Tyrannosaurus Facts

  • This dinosaur had 60 razor sharp teeth
  • The teeth on the Tyrannosaurus could be up to 9 inches long
  • This dinosaur used its tail to maintain balance
  • The Tyrannosaurus weighed as much as an Asian Elephant
  • This dinosaur’s top speed was about 18 MPH—faster than humans!

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