Friday, January 18, 2008

Life long ago

So I knew, as you probably know, that the floaty rafts of rock we call continents were once one solid block and then broke apart, forming the familar map of today's world.

But I did not know, and maybe you didn't either, that the bump and grind of our planet was much more than a one-time dance. In the history of our planet, continents have come together, ripped apart, come together again, risen beneath the waves, sunk beneath them again and shivered at the poles only to steam at the equator millions of years later. Antarctica, for example, was once a mild and forested land. Mount Everest was once at the bottom of the ocean.

Smaller pieces have drifted around, thousands of miles from their parent continents and wedged themselves into new continents. Thus, Florida for example.

It is fascinating, fascinating stuff. Today I read about an extinct 2,000 pound rodent that once inhabited South America. It is believed that when North and South America collided long ago, North American herbivores ambled south and out-competed this mega-mouse, and it vanished.

7 comments:

Chase March said...

Hi ECD, I was wondering if we could exchange email addresses. I wanted to ask you something about the new novel I have been working on. You could click on my profile link and say “Hi” if this is okay with you.

Thanks,

Chase

eastcoastdweller said...

Sure thing, Chase.

Ian Lidster said...

As Homer Simpson would say: "Damn continental drift!"

eastcoastdweller said...

Preceded by a hearty “D’Oh!”

Homer speaks to a dark corner in all of our souls. We guffaw as he chokes the life out of bratty Bart, although we would be horrified to see such a thing in real life.

But back to the continents: It’s not just drift but rather – if I may be excused for some crude anthropomorphism – marriage, consummation, childbirth, divorce and reconciliation.

If one were to sit in a hypothetical satellite, with billions of years at one’s disposal, it would unfold beneath you like the scene from a kaleidoscope: together and apart, together and apart, a myriad of shifting shapes.

Marine fossils are now lodged in the mountain heights. Glacier-scoured valleys are still strewn with rubble; and ancient volcanic flows have crumbled into rich loam.

River mouths such as the Chesapeake are drowned by the sea; elsewhere, seas have utterly vanished and their salt now lies deep underground.

The violent record of our planet is preserved in the Giant’s Causeway off Ireland and in the diamond deposits of South Africa; the living reminders of the splits and mergers in such creatures as the North American opossum, one of the few marsupials that successfully colonized North America from the South when the two lands smashed together after millions of years apart.

The continuing change is evident in dead and dying seas from Utah to Israel to the Caspian Sea of Russia; in the still-rising heights of the Himalayas; and in new islands forming around Iceland and Hawaii.

I find it a fascinating tale!

Kat said...

Yes the saga of this planet, even just the geological, without considering all the myriad life forms and their histories, is FASCINATING. ....
and I enjoyed your analogy :-) and your imagery

I am home from work now and wondering what the earth has in store for me tomorrow, in terms of weather.... will it sleet and freeze over? leaving me fearful to venture out? I gave notice that if the conditions are bad I will stay home from work....

I waited on a very interesting VIP tonight
:-) ..... and a nice nice man too.

yek said...

Again, ECD, you amaze me of your post. Thanks for being there and to FLOW. My birthday's coming and even though you guys aren't here, you are officially invited to my party. On the 27th, at a not-so-fancy hotel. I wish you guys were here. Take care.

eastcoastdweller said...

Kat: Be safe! I sure do wish You didn't live three states away -- I really think You, Sweetie and I could be the best of friends and great neighbors.

Yek: Happy almost birthday, You amazing, multi-lingual, beautiful miracle, You. I, FLOW and Your friends in FLOW will always be here to be a sounding board or a comforting embrace for You! We think You are quite a special Lady.