Untold Magic Of Planet Earth


It was Empty. Quiet. Everywhere, everything was constant. It was not balanced. It was more like level zero. Then out of void Gaia the goddess created the Earth. Spherical, green, and blue Earth. Then Eros created love, Uranus created sky or heaven, and many more. Now it’s neither empty nor quiet anymore. It is diverse now. This is how the Greek mythology explains the origin of the Earth or beginning of diversity.

What does it mean by diversity?

Based on the field it may have different definitions. Biological diversity is said to be the variability of life on Earth. Variation can be observed from genetic matter to huge eco systems. Variation of life can be identified through time as evolution. The diversification of organisms can be measured in genetic, species and ecosystem diversity. The organisms which interbreed with each other and produce successful offspring are grouped as a species. Scientists estimate there are about 8.7 million species, but only about 1.2 million have been identified. The most abundant species are insects. Species interact with other species and with the environment around them to balance the dynamic nature of Earth. The unit which shows biotic-biotic interactions, biotic-abiotic interactions and abioticabiotic interactions at a particular area is described as an eco-system. Eco-system includes all the species available in the described area. Conventionally, the Earth originated about 4.5 billion years ago. About 4 billion years ago the 1st cell originated. It was a basic cell with some RNA, and a cell membrane. That tiny thing has gone through numerous modifications for 4 billion years and now it has created wonders on Gaia’s creation. Humans, animals, plants, microorganisms, and every living organism represent the 1st cell that originated 4 billion years ago.

It is fun to say all living organisms derived from a common ancestor.

What made this ancestor move its youngsters on different paths? Why didn’t all the youngsters derive only as plants, or as animals? Why made it diverse?
Let us seek answers.

Sir Charles Darwin was interested to know the answers to the above questions. Finally, he was able to sort out this chaos. From the moment of birth to the death every organism faces a competition to survive. Competiton for resources such as food, habitat, partners, water and many more occur within a species and between species. Different species experience different environmental conditions. A penguin cannot live in a warm climate. It cannot compete with the warm climate to survive. A fish cannot survive atmospheric air. It needs dissolved oxygen. We cannot live inside an active volcano. We cannot resist that extreme temperature but an archaea bacteria will surely survive. Different species need different environmental conditions to survive. That makes them unique. That makes them diverse to each other. But even when there are suitable conditions, organisms face competition. Let us draw a simple example. Assume that there is a lovely girl, and 2 boys are competing to win her heart. One boy is tall, has a good voice and comes from a good family. The other boy is also tall, but does not have a good voice, is more into party life and comes from a rich family. Who would you think the girl pick? The boy who is compatible with girl’s need will win her heart. In this example there is a competition for a partner. The boy who has the most suitable conditions will win. The girl may pick one of them or neither of them. Also, girls may have different choices. Some girls may like educated boys, some may prefer rich boys, some may prefer sporty boys, or maybe a tall boy or some may like to stay single. Even though all the girls belong to the same gender their needs are diverse. This concept is applied to every species on Earth.

To survive through the competition, species show different adaptations. Most adapted species will thrive in the competition. Adaptation makes species unique and diverse. Aquatic species are adopted to breath in dissolved oxygen but mammals (except Dolphine, whales), reptiles cannot breathe dissolved oxygen. Terrestrial animals may breathe atmospheric oxygen, but their respiratory organs are diverse. Insects have book lungs, terrestrial mollusks (Snail. Slug) have a cavity while reptiles, amphibians and terrestrial mammals have lungs. Fish, Amphibians, Reptiles, birds, mammals have a vertebral column. Yet only birds have wings with feathers, only amphibians can live in both water and land, only mammals have mammary glands.

How many of you know that toad and frog are 2 distinct species?

Frog and toad are both amphibians, but they are different from each other. Frogs live near water environments, have smooth skin and longer legs. Toads live on land, have rough skin and shorter legs. Therefore, it is obvious that every organism has unique features which make them diverse from each other. The adaptations to their following environmental conditions sustain the biodiversity.

This theory applied to plants and microbes as well. Archaea bacteria and bacteria are both microbes, but archaea can survive in extreme conditions such as high salinity, elevated temperature, or freezing temperature. The mangrove plants grow under high light intensity and salinity conditions. Therefore, they have thick leaves, specialized roots for respiration and anchor to the ground. But a plant adopted to ‘pathana’ like knuckles cannot survive under mangrove conditions. ‘Pathana’ plants have stunted trunks, thin leaves. Also, plants can be divided into sun plants and shady plants. Sun plants grow under high light intensity. So, they have vertical leaf orientation and leaf surface area is small, but shady plants need
low light intensity. So, they have horizontal leaf orientation and leaf surface area is large.

The individuals who are most compatible with the environmental changes and conditions will survive from the competition while weaklings will go extinct but why some survived and others perish?
What made them overcome the competition?

The master mind is inside their cells. It is DNA. In the same species the genetic superiority can be changed. The best traits will be selected by nature, naturally to continue their legacy. (The genetic information in DNA is expressed as traits). Therefore, the next generation will be more adapted to the environment because they have superior genes. This phenomenon has been repeated for thousands of years which leads to the evolution of organisms.

There are many more, uncountable, invaluable diverse features in organisms which beautify Earth. The smartest creature, humans, create wonders on Earth. Humans bring breath taking Hogwarts magic into the muggle world. The canopy of tropical rainforest is like an apartment in the wild. Each canopy level habitats for different bird species. Coral reefs within bluish seas decorate the sea bottom. It is a home for many aquatic species.

What if there was no biodiversity?

Assume if factories produce the same taste, same size milk chocolates. What will happen? I can guarantee people will not be interested in eating chocolate. Chocolate will be the worst Valentine’s gift. So, diversity is important. Biological diversity reduces the competition for resources. Different species will have different requirements. Biodiversity supports the coexistence of organisms. 2 bird species which are closely related can live on the same tree by resource partitioning. The microbial population living on plant roots helps absorb nutrients to the plants, leading to nutrient cycling. The diversity of biomes in various parts of the world directly involves sustaining the climate. It is obvious that biodiversity is important to sustain the dynamic nature of Earth.

But unfortunately, biodiversity is declining way faster than you can imagine. Human population is increasing, breaking the barriers of carrying capacity. Humans are invading every possible location changing the margins of other habitats. Replacing the natural environment with artificial materials. Plastic threat is gradually taking the lives of innocent creatures. The god Aether created a clear upper air allowing land residents to refresh themselves and to feel his mother’s creation, planet Earth. But now humans have made it toxic, killing different plant and animal species including themselves.

Back in the days, Earth was like a Royal ceremonial wedding. Giant water bodies marching towards seas holding thousands of diverse aquatic species who carry the message of the wedding. Different flocks of birds make harmonious melodies filling the gathering. Flowers with vibrant colors decorate the aisle ceremonial hall and the beautiful bride, Mother Earth. The trees were full of fruits making a wonderful buffet. And all the other creatures were present, happily to witness this pure bond of love.

Would you rather be at a wedding where variations have combined to form a paradise or experience a funeral with creatures wearing only black, full of sorrow and crying?

By- Eraji Kariyawasam

Image Courtesy: https://bit.ly/4dJzOE5

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