Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Links: Birth Of Species, Children's Book, Rise Of Oxygen

 Some geology and evolution material for your perusal.

1) I came across this well crafted documentary by Niles Eldredge and Stefano Dominici on the history of the development of ideas on the birth of species. It is a paleontologist's perspective with fossils being given the centre stage. A great many personalities who contributed to the early thinking on the origin of species are featured. Among the prominent ones who influenced Darwin were Lamarck, Cuvier, Giambattista Brocchi, and John Herschel to name a few. Completely left out of this film is Alfred Wallace. 

It does center around Darwin, and, later towards the end, on Niles Eldredge's work on Punctuated Equilibrium, which he published in collaboration with Stephen Jay Gould. I have often wondered whether there was any tension between Eldredge and Gould regarding proprietorship over Punctuated Equilibrium given Gould's very bombastic advocacy of this idea. The last section of this film is revealing! 

Beautifully compiled. Do watch. 


If  you are unable to access the embedded video, view it at this permanent link - The Birth of Species

2) Zircon (zirconium silicate) is a remarkable mineral. Born in the cauldron of magma chambers, it is henceforth virtually indestructible unless it is melted down again. This makes it a witness to geological processes affecting and shaping terrains over hundreds of millions of  years. What a story it has to tell us. And that is precisely what geochronologist Matthew Fox has done. He has written a children's book titled Jane's Geological Adventure, which follows Jane, the zircon grain, from her birth in a magma chamber to a life lasting 400 million years. Alka Tripathy-Lang reviews the book.

Meet Jane, the Zircon Grain—Geochronology’s New Mascot.

3) Elizabeth Pennisi writes about a new paper published in Nature Geosciences on the link between the increase in the length of the day and the rise of atmospheric oxygen on early earth. 

‘Totally new’ idea suggests longer days on early Earth set stage for complex life.

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