David Attenborough's documentaries are “visionary”. The inspiration behind writing this post comes from one of his documentary series called the Origins of Life. It kind of attempts to explain some of the common features almost all the animal species have. Most of these features stare at our faces; I mean, we experience them everyday. But we are not there to appreciate it...we just let it pass like an average ordinary day.
But this post is not about the average ordinary day either...Scientists, when they study fossils, theorize with the little evidence they get. They try to imagine how that particular species would have lived. Why they had the body plan that they had. What kind of advantage did that body plan give them. Its their theories which are truly illuminating. Much of life that is today we owe to these species.
Fossil science may not be my niche. However, facts you get to learn about various things when you discover a fossil are great. We try to answer questions like:
- How come this fossil is perfectly preserved?
- What sort of environmental conditions lead to this?
- How the earth's terrain was at that point of time? I.e. Its geology.
- What are the characteristics of that particular geology which lead to the preservation?
- What period this fossil belonged to? (Carbon dating, geological era).
Answering these questions give us a clue as to how the earth's surrounding could have been. Such evidences are corroborated with the other fossils they collect around that area or site. These again are basically theories. Then using these theories we try to figure so many other aspects of the fossil.
- How it lived?
- The shape it had?
- The unique bizzare features it had.
- Why those features where there in the first place...? (natural selection).
I'd normally want to type it all. However, I think these best way to communicate the fascination is via presentation slides.
So enter the Cambrain era...