Friday, March 7, 2008

Stressful Lifestyles of the Permian Era

Yesterday I vegged out, not by watching the fight scenes in The Pink Panther as Hammer suggested (excellent idea, btw) but by watching the BBC series about life before the dinosaurs. It's such a goofy series, with dramatic music backgrounds and computer animated animals ("monsters" the narrator calls them) who roar like Godzilla. Does anyone really know if these animals made sounds? Oh well, it did add to the entertainment value.

From the Cambrian to the Permian, according to the BBC, life was extremely and unrelentingly stressful. Every single creature, for hundreds of millions of years, worried endlessly about mating, eating, nesting, travel, and escaping from predators and natural distasters.

Hmmm. That pattern sounds very familiar.

Is your life unbearably stressful? Just imagine living in the Carboniferous era when the danger of being eaten by a spider the size of a volkswagon was an everyday reality. Things could be worse, eh?

And the extinctions - my goodness, do you think global warming is bad? During the Permian extinction, 97% of all iife on the planet was killed off. There were several mass extinctions that preceded the devastating Permian extinction, too.

This is such a crazy planet, on which life will find a way, no matter what, it seems. As I watched the animals doing their mating dances, eating, migrating, and especially as they fought with one another, I thought, no wonder things are so bad in the Gaza strip and elsewhere. We're smart and sophisticated, pretty cute, too, but we're inseparable from the rest of life on Earth. We try so hard, but we are what we are.

Watching the series renewed in me a soft spot for my species. Aren't we noble to hope we can rise above it all? Aren't we romantic to imagine that life used to be less stressful? Well, aren't we?


Barbara said...

Isn't this what each of us is still doing today: mating, eating, nesting, travel, and escaping from predators and natural disasters? Evolution has made us a little more sophisticated and given us a new landscape, but the basic script is the same.

I love THE HTRY FAMILY. Do they have big hearts? Is it the males who are so transparent, devoid of color?

kimy said...

the deed is done - now I have to wait for 4-6 weeks!!

"You will receive 94 issues of The New Yorker, for only $69.95. Your subscription will be sent to the address below. Your first issue will arrive in four to six weeks."

I too love the chalk art family....I wonder which figure was the artist

Gary said...

We are dear Reya, we certainly are.

deborah said...

I'm particularly taken with the chalk family and had a friend who analyzed children's art from the summer art classes.

She would note size and placement, like the highheeled Mom? size and the girl's sizes next to the last boy figure. I love that stuff.

Too, didn't scientists recently agree that the bones from the latest dino sea monster indicated that it could eat a VW bug car?
We would just prod that spider over close to the water and chomp--no more worries. heheheh

rothko said...

I think we make our life stressful with the decisions. It's not just kill the spider or run anymore. It's ... well, that spider is another living organism and we should respect it. And ... it would be a shame if giant spiders became extinct, wouldn't it? It's not just mate or not mate. It's ... Do we want 'em? And ... is now a good time? And ... what if we can't? It's not just eat or not eat. It's ... What about food allergies? And ... what's even in this stuff, anyway? But when you boil it down to the simple stuff (live or die) there's something refreshingly simple about that. We over-think ourselves into complexity and it's hard not to. Maybe it's just me, but I'd go ahead and take the Permian Era over today. Even if it were just to see one of those giant spiders.

Reya Mellicker said...

Rothko you are so brilliant. I love the way you think.

The Hrdys are our next-door neighbors. I can tell you exactly who is who. David, the dad, is at the far left. He's a biologist with the EPA. His project for the last several years has been to see whether every molecule of pesticide can be removed from the skin of an apple. Seriously. Is that cool or what? And so perfect as an example of our complicated decision processes!

Alice in high heels is the mom. She's not a large person, believe me! But she looms large in Courtney's legend. Alice is a lawyer with the FDA.

Courtney is next with the long hair. She's the oldest kid - really a fabulous character. As a little kid she was really into costumes, crowns and sparkling shoes but as she's gotten older ... she's about 8 I think, she has gotten more interested in soccer and art. She is the chalk artist master. You should see some of her work! I posted one of hers on Dec. 31, 2007 right here on this blog. Check it out. So much life in her figures!

Next is Martha, who has taken on the costumes, crowns and sparkling shoes with zeal.

James is the youngest. He loves to climb and is afraid of absolutely nothing. One time he decided to go take a drive. He could barely walk, but somehow he dragged a chair to the front door, got on it to get the car keys, let himself into their family mega-van, locked the doors and started the car. Fortunately Alice noticed he wasn't around. Whew! But - that's James.

I remember the births of both Martha and James. I've been on this street a long time.

lettuce said...

yes i think we can be pretty cool.

as is this family

(couldn't help noticing the same possible gender discrepancy as barbara... interesting)

kim yanoshik said...

very loverly family - mouse (heart) the hrty family. and special message to courtney - you go girl!!

Lee's River/Zlatovyek said...

I find that the information about the Permian extinction puts things in proper perspective and feel better about my day already :-)

Lori Witzel said...

Just a fast drive-by from my biz travel/travail...I am so glad to see through your eyes. Big smiles to you and Jake.

tracyho said...

great to read that ,

Tracy ho