Say hello to your distant cousin, the fruit fly

How incredible is this? Just when you (almost) lose hope in humanity, we silly slugs put together something like this incredible chart, which is called the Circle of Life:

 

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There are millions of species on Earth. 15,000 new species are discovered every year.

Every one of us, from worm, to algae, to platypus, to bacteria, started out in the middle of that circle and evolved into what (or who) we are today. For better or worse, evolution doesn’t stop, although there are some scientists who think that human evolution slowed down to nearly a full stop around 10,000 years ago. While the jury is still out on that notion, one thing is certain: human evolution is very, very slow when compared to other living things on Earth, like, for example, the fruit fly.

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The fruit fly blasts through its life cycle so fast that it only takes seven days for it to reach its sexual maturity. Compare that to humans, for whom it takes 15-20 years.

Such slow evolution means that all of us humans walk around with a brain which is attuned and evolved to deal with life on Earth as it was 10,000 years ago. No matter how much education, regardless of your age, or how and where you live, you’re still going to perceive and react, at some very basic level, to the world around you from a very primitive perspective…you cannot override your evolutionary impulses, instincts, or biases, no matter how hard you try (while I’m pretty sure of this last part,  I’m 100% certain that if I’m wrong, someone will point out my mistake).

This is why we often feel overloaded, overstimulated, and disoriented in loud, bustling, or unfamiliar places. We simply aren’t hardwired to deal with a car going 70 miles per hour, or the bombarding lights and information coming at us in Times Square, or even the insane amount of choices which require quick decision making at a WalMart Superstore. It’s just too much, too fast, whether you’re a toddler or a senior citizen – you’re still left with seriously outdated “hardware” which hasn’t caught up to the modern world.

As that old cigarette advertisement from the 1970’s proclaimed…

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But we haven’t “come this far” simply to kill ourselves off with tobacco. The truly mind blowing trip, from the pinpoint inside that Circle of Life (and the primordial soup), to the outer segment of the circle, something that has taken 3.5 billion years, is what I call just plain dumb luck.

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We humans can’t take credit for basically anything that got us this far. We evolved and got to where we are now thanks to the five mass extinction events on Earth , which were caused by things like asteroid impacts, drops in global oxygen levels, catastrophic methane releases, vulcanism, and extreme climate changes (like Ice Ages).

After the Permian mass extinction (248 million years ago), 96% of all life on Earth was wiped out. Everything that is alive today came out of that extremely lucky 4% that survived. In fact, 99.9% of all species that ever existed have gone extinct. What arrogance for us to think we’ll end differently, right? And it’s not merely idle, lazy arrogance. We are knowingly shoving ourselves into an entirely manmade 6th mass extinction event.

At the rate we’re going, we’ll be right back into the (now entirely manmade) ooze before we know it.

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