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?

30 comments:

Sandra Leigh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandra Leigh said...

I just got way too serious with that last comment. No, it's not the end of the world, Reya. Take care. Wash your hands. Enjoy life.

Reya Mellicker said...

I wonder what your first comment was?

Yes I wash my hands a lot; a habit I picked up because of my work.

In a big pandemic, I wonder how fun it is to be one of the survivors ...

R.L. Bourges said...

Reya: remember the avian flu that was going to decimate the world? Granted, swine flu is easier to pass on to humans but , frankly, your common cold (or flu) is a likelier source of misery (says I, sniffling and snuffling as some bacteria or virus have their way with me.)

I say: Long live the prokaryotes but... Minority Rules! Eukaryotes of the world, unite! Laugh, love, enjoy and stay healthy.

Amen. (Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm due for more ibuprofen.) :-)

John Hayes said...

I worry about this stuff in general & in particular because of having a respiratory condition. But the bottom line to me is we all are best served enjoying our life as long as we have it to enjoy. & wash hands, wash hands.

Janelle said...

i tell you...i'm making sure that i am with beautiful people on that date in 2012....i'm not scoffing at it...no siree!! xxx j

sciencegirl said...

It's easy to get carried away, but let's not sell humans short. If indigenous means 'from here', 'innate', 'inherent' and/or 'natural', we're every bit as indigenous as any bug around. And more than some, since our own meddling has created new species of bacteria and viruses not naturally occurring in the usual sense. As individuals, we're just not as numerous. But that's okay. I like being less than one person per square meter (most of the time!). And although the total mass of ants on the earth far outweighs the total mass of humans, ants can't build spaceship or write novels, so what is it we're trying to compare?
It's good to put life into perspective now and then. We're not the only life on earth; it's true, and not the only life that matters. We can share our planet without disappearing from it.

Merle Sneed said...

Damn swine!

Dubby said...

Hello Dahlink!

Oh yes, this is the brainy gal I remember from school! Wow. Thank you for throwing me in to this pondering state. This is what will keep us all safe from extinction! Seriously, this is what we need to constantly be doing--digging deeper in to true reality. Wonderful! btw, I don't think the Mayans ever predicted the end of time. It is just that the Mayan calendar stops, right around December 21, 2012. Many of us think it is actually more a reference point defining a new era. Not the end, but the beginning! Love you...

A Cuban In London said...

I, too, keep thinking about the virus, but it is pointless, really.

I feel glad that I have still so many bacteria in my body. In fact, I would like to form unions to fight off the nasty influence of those neo-colonialistic, imperialistic viruses :-).

Greetings from London.

willow said...

Even the name is despicable! I am big on hand washing, anyway, and don't let people in my personal space.

I saw the History Channel special on 2012 last night. It does make you think. Yipes.

Joanne said...

It's something to watch, to keep an eye on as we carefully go about our days. But I think the lesson here is that we should always go about our days, living life, but qualified with that "carefully."

deborah said...

It was the flu pandemic of 1918 which forced the creation of the Mennonite Orphanage which became Associated Youth Services.

Children, now in their 70's and 80's would come visit and look at their records (which we stored and copied for them) and tell the stories of parents who died or left them because of the pandemic.

This made very real to me both the threat and the aftermath.

Any symptoms should take each of us immediately to the hospital for treatment--enormous numbers of humans die in a pandemic.

Love and more love,

mouse (aka kimy) said...

worrying compromises the immune system!

slowing working my way back to the bloggerhood (although not home till late tonight)....

man, missed alot on TGP.

love the new banner!

glad to read you wash your hands a lot!

Hilarywho said...

Great post. I think we'd all be better off as inhabitants of this planet if we more often remembered what an insignificant anomaly we really are. Perhaps there'd be less war and craziness if we didn't take ourselves and our puny lives so seriously!

Chris Wolf said...

I live every day as if it's precious and a "last day". After all, it IS!
This makes decision making easier-yes to chances to impact a person (or the world), no to relationships that might waste my time, and pass the dessert.
Breathe deeply and tell people you love them. It's that easy or that hard depending on how you roll. Finding spirit and holyness in laundry was my biggest challenge.
"Tomorrow is not promised to anyone." Kirby Puckett

Washington Cube said...

Wear your bells and yell "Unclean."

Ronda Laveen said...

I'm wondering...if as Eukarya, can we count the number of cells of which we are comprised? Rather than considering us, the container, a count of one, we could greatly increase the size of our army by changing our thinking.

I am activating my invisible plastic bubble now. Nothing can enter that I do not allow. And washing my hands. A lot. Power to the Eukarya, right on!

ellen abbott said...

I try not to dwell on on the different ways we die. Be prudent but don't hide. If it's the beginning of a new pandemic, either we will get it or not, live through it or not. Not a whole lot you can do really to prevent it besides try to have a strong immune system by eating and living well.

Meri Arnett-Kremian said...

Remember to use language carefully when it comes to matters of health. "I am" is the language of the gods and brings things to being.

Greg said...

Relax. Wash up. Remember the great swine flu "epidemic" of 1976. I think we are very far from needing to panic.
http://gawker.com/5229395/swine-flu-panic-bullshit

Robbin'sMama said...

I was watching the news on the Swine Flu today, thinking I hope I do not get exposed until I get my white fighting cells back up where they belong. Sometimes the best thing to do is not watch the news. And wash your hands
Love todays pictures

Washington Cube said...

I think you should all get stinking drunk on high alcohol content booze, keep yourself pickled and nothing can survive in you. Oh. And write surrealistic poetry.

o:)

My word verification is vulan which is close to "Vulcan" which is another way not to get it...become a Vulcan.

tut-tut said...

Extraordinarily successful beings, Prokaryotes are, and extraordinarily diverse.

Reya Mellicker said...

OMG I love every one of these comments.

Science Girl I'm so glad you caught this post. I always always ALWAYS benefit from your point of view. Ants, worldwide, weigh more than humans? Wow, that is so cool!

Merle and Cube - you made me laugh so loudly that Jake startled, then went to hide in the other room.

Meri - you're right of course. Thank you.

Didn't know there was a 2012 History Channel special. I'll have to locate it and watch it as a re-run. Very cool.

Dub - Love you, too! Maybe, like Janelle suggested, that winter solstice would be well spent with beloveds.

Deborah in a past life I was a nurse during WWI. Watching all those poor people die of the flu left its mark on me. Probably that's why I'm scared, just as I was around the avian flu scare.

So glad, too, that all of us wash our hands. That makes me happy. Thanks, all.

Delwyn said...

Willow's post today said that one of the 3 little pigs was called Fifey, another Fiddler, perhaps the third was Fluey...

Lover of Life said...

It's a thought, isn't it?

R.L. Bourges said...

Reya: apparently, eukaryotes and prokaryotes now must share their space with bots.

Just a word to let you know my community blog was deleted by blogpost after it got pulled up in an automated search for 'reprehensible material'. Don't ask, but you can read the details on my personal blog, if you're interested.

Just want to reassure my blogging friends their computers are NOT at risk from having visited my blog(s) and will try to get back up and running asap.

Best

Val said...

ooherr - scarey stuff for sure; but then so was avian flu, and SARS (not the revenue service altho thats pretty scary too!) ; certainly a lot of apocalyptic things happening but also culture of fear mongering - afterall human populations far exceed our planetary resources right now - something has to give. what is that date in 2012 then? ..... phew
Take good care xx
ps award for you at mine

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

The swine flu is scary especially when we have to be around many people daily. This is the type thing I worried about as a teacher. We can't run & hide or sequester ourselves, but we can be careful & keep sanitizers handy, wear face masks if advised to do so, etc.

I think wearing a mask on an airplane, subway, or bus might be advisable. Stay healthy, but don't worry yourself sick.