Energized evolution: How Earth’s history has been shaped by energy discoveries

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Humans bodies require a ridiculous and—for most of Earth’s history—improbable amount of energy to stay alive.

Consider a human dropped into primordial soup 3.8 billions years ago, when life first began…[H]ow did we get sources of concentrated energy (i.e. food) growing on trees and lumbering through grass?

In “The Energy Expansions of Evolution,” an extraordinary new essay in Nature Ecology and Evolution, Olivia Judson sets out a theory of successive energy revolutions that purports to explain how our planet came to have such a diversity of environments that support such a rich array of life…geochemical energy, sunlight, oxygen, flesh, and fire. Each epoch represents the unlocking of a new source of energy, coinciding with new organisms able to exploit that source and alter their planet.

Judson divides the history of the life on Earth into five energetic epochs: geochemical energy, sunlight, oxygen, flesh, and fire. Each epoch represents the unlocking of a new source of energy, coinciding with new organisms able to exploit that source and alter their planet.

[For members of the genus Homo, the epoch of fire represents their ascent since] fire lets us cook, which may have allowed us to get more nutrition out of the same food.

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The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: A Grand New Theory of Life’s Evolution on Earth