Monday, April 27, 2009
The World Belongs to the Prokaryotes
I googled but was unable to find a diagram that shows how insignificant we Eukarya are in comparison with the kingdom of the Prokaryotes; i.e. bacteria and viruses. Eukarya is the name for all families of plants and animals. All the plants and all the animals that have ever lived are a mere blip compared with the Prokaryotes (including during the Cambrian Explosion when there were zillions more species than there are today). The Prokaryotes have reigned supreme since life first appeared on this planet. No doubt they will outlive even the cockroach - by a mile.
In March they discovered bacteria that live in the Stratosphere, unrelated (as far as they can tell) to any Earth-based bacteria, yet "not alien." Don't you wonder how they figured that out? There's bacteria that lives on the searing-hot fissures in the deepest trenches at the very bottom of the ocean. There's bacteria that lives on antibiotics. There is! Your body is full of bacteria, most of it either benign or helpful. In fact, we couldn't live without it. Kind of creepy to think about, but true.
In spite of how high and mighty we sometimes think we are, the truth is, we humans are an anomaly on Earth, a moment, the blink of an eye. The viruses and bacteria are the one truly indigenous species. They have been, and they will be.
I'm thinking about this because of the Swine Flu, now finding its way out of Mexico into the U.S., Canada and Europe. My sister Hannah, who is one of the most psychic people I know, mentioned her concern last night. Then this morning, my neighbor (who is a chemist with the EPA) told me to "keep healthy." He was smiling, but still! I admit I'm a little bit scared.
Maybe I need to revise my opinion of the Mayan predicted doomsday in 2012. Do you think?