Saturday, 21 February 2009

Discovering History

The Universe

The Big Bang, a huge colossal explosion 15 billion years ago created time, space, matter and everything else in the Universe. The area it happened is where a concentration of power and potential energy had been stored and surprisingly it was smaller than a grape.

In an instant the charge of exploding particles sent and scattered fragments of the new Universe in all directions racing away from another. Since then it has continued to expand deeper and deeper into a vast ocean of empty space.

One second after the event, the temperature was 10 billion billion billion degrees (approximately 10 trillion degrees 0C), much higher than the Sun and this is despite an immediate drop in the intensity of already scorching heat.

Within minutes, hydrogen (the most common element in the Universe) arose. Three hundred thousand years later the Universe was filled with both light and atoms. After the first billion years, a gallery of galaxies (a multitude of stars, planets, gases, dust and cosmic rays) had begun to appear one of which was the Milky Way.

The Milky Way (a large disc-shaped collection of 1000 billion stars) is itself a member of a total cluster of 30 galaxies known as the local group. That same group of 30 galaxies, each supporting hundreds and perhaps thousands of stars, as big or bigger than the Sun, is also just one of another 30, 000 other galaxies like it in one big giant super cluster.

The strange thing is there may be many such super clusters, which have yet to be seen and discovered that experts think we only know about 10% of the Universe so far and even then this is only an estimate.

As distances in space are so vast, astronomers measure it in light years especially for anything outside or beyond the Solar system. A light year is the distance light travels in a year. One light year is 9, 460, 528, 405, 000 km (almost 6 trillion miles), that’s 299 million km per second!

The Sun, which is 150 million km away from us, takes just 8.3 minutes to generate light and heat to Earth. Despite being a medium sized star it is still 1.3 million times bigger than Earth and has a surface temperature of 6, 0000C.

In some parts of it, the temperatures can be even hotter, but the Sun’s force and energy will not allow it to last forever. It may also have had its origins in an earlier star similar to it that exploded five billion years ago. Around the same time the rest of the planets and moons in the Solar System emerged.

We now know of 100, 000 million other galaxies and at least twenty planets with a Sun like our own. Some astronomers say there may be up to 20 trillion galaxies in total each containing 100 billion stars. Makes you feel quite small just thinking about it doesn’t it.

The nearest galaxy beyond the Milky Way (the Andromeda galaxy) is 2.2 million light years away. This means what we see of the galaxy now at that distance is where it was 2.2 million years ago and not now.

Like any star or object outside the Solar system, it is so distant and shooting further out into space, that even with a telescope it is becoming less and less visible with time and might eventually fade from view altogether.


The Earth itself has existed for 4, 600 million years (4.6 billion years) that's roughly 1, 100 million years after the Big Bang and 1, 400 million years after the Sun. Moon rocks brought by astronauts are dated to the same time period, as are many meteorites which have hit the Earth.

At first, our planet was nothing but an intense hot cloud of gas and dust without shape spiraling against the Sun. Over time it became a glowing red-hot fireball once the gases and dust had come together. One hundred million years later it slowly began to cool allowing a hard crust to form on the surface and lands began to show up clearly.

Around 4, 500 million years ago, another bang less enormous and ‘natural’ than the first almost destroyed the Earth. Astronomers say a planet the size of Mars may have come out of nowhere and smashed against the Earth causing a devastating effect.

The collision completely demolished the other planet upon impact and left only floating particles of its existence across space. Eventually the Moon was created from the fallen debris orbiting the Earth.

Five hundred million years later however volcanoes began erupting on a large scale and water vapour started to form. Similar eruptions have been recorded in the early histories of other planets and even on the Moon itself.

Soon after massive rainstorms from newly formed clouds lasted for over 60, 000 years non-stop, making the Earth the only planet in the Solar system to have both water and oxygen on its surface.

Later the Earth’s atmosphere (a mixture of gases surrounding a celestial body such as a planet and has a field of gravity strong enough to prevent them escaping) formed. Originally, 3, 800 million years ago, it was made up only of poisonous gases like Carbon Dioxide and Methane.

By then it was looking a lot like the Earth we know today having once been a red and than a dark yellowish sphere showing nothing but craters and signs of active volcanoes like the ones seen on the Moon.

The Earth was now ready to support life. The kind that could withstand and tolerate a toxic atmosphere as well as breed and reproduce without the use of any other life form, energy or ingredients to begin with. Perhaps that’s why it took another three hundred years for anyone or anything to arrive.

However, we can only be sure of what has existed for the last 590 million years. This is despite having found the remains of unidentified mobile (moving) creatures who lived here over 700 million years ago perfectly preserved in rocks in the same way less visible microscopic germs have been discovered as well.

Everything else is based on either scientific calculations, laboratory experiments or speculation. Anything before then is recorded as ‘pre-history’ as there are few or no specimens and remains available to prove what is said about it.

This account's for only 15% of the Earth's total history. That's at least 4.1 billion years of our home planet's history we don't know about, who lived here and for how long. Think about that for a moment!

Human beings wouldn't materialize for another 4, 596 million years from the time Earth came into being, and that's only the most ‘primitive’ ones for the first two million years or more.

Compared to pre-human history, our existence both on Earth and the Universe is like having lived here for only two seconds of an ordinary day and even then just before midnight.

Once we came it would take a further 3 million years to start putting clothes on, talk to one another using words and gestures and permanently leave caves. After settling in villages, it took an additional millennium for towns and cities to appear and another six thousand years for the first major civilization and written languages to develop.

The First Life Forms

The first 1.1 billion years of the Earth's history, scientists say, no life existed whatsoever either on land, the sea or anywhere on the planet. It was entirely empty of all living things. Even plants, forests, flowers and trees had yet to make their appearance.

Today a lot of people think dinosaurs (meaning terrible lizard) were the earliest animals here, but scientists estimate that some form of life had existed at least 3, 250 million years before them, although dinosaurs may have been the largest as a species up until their demise.

Today it is suggested there are up to 10-15 million different types of creatures alive and that's only who we know about, although scientists say 99% of all creatures who have existed at some point or another are now extinct.

The earliest known or recorded life forms began 3.5 billion years ago in the seas or in volcanic pools. They are said to have been bacteria, germs and molecules (small and simple chemicals containing two or more atoms) made up of one cell each and not openly visible to the human eye.

Unlike then, almost every living thing today including ourselves is made up of hundreds and perhaps thousands of small cells. Although it would not be until 800 million years ago when the first multi-cellular creatures would appear (in the sea), a total of 2.7 billion years from the time life officially started.

None of them had any bones or shells and looked a bit like worms, and despite their size and cell-like structure some of them would pile upon each other layer by layer and looked like massive mounds, boulders and rocks known as stromatolites across shallow seas.

There was no oxygen then, the oceans were red and even the sky was pink, the latter due to a mixture of gases that included Sulphur Dioxide. Somehow bacteria (which had since evolved into different varieties and shapes) would illuminate the oceans and atmosphere with oxygen and paint the sky blue allowing later beings like us to breathe more easily.

Surprisingly, oxygen had once been poisonous but has now ceased to be so. Could it be, only the first life forms found it fatal and dangerous or has it got better over the years and remained constant and just perfect for us?

Once enough oxygen had been pumped into the oceans (but not yet the atmosphere) five hundred and seventy million years ago, sea animals came into existence replacing bacteria and other less mobile creatures as the dominant group.

Bacteria has nevertheless remained both alive and active ever since, and unlike many marine animals learned to adapt and breed on land as well as within the sea and later in live flesh. It might also be the only life form that may never become extinct.

Initially all living things including bacteria were residents of one huge ocean known as Panthalassa. Only Aquarian (sea) animals could breathe and evolve successfully for 130 million years before the monopoly on oxygen and ocean supremacy was finally challenged.

This means life beyond the sea began only 440 million years ago. Although lands had existed before then, they were all joined together in one big giant Super continent known as Pangaea (meaning All-Earth or All-Land) and like the sea, was originally unaffected by changes in season and temperature that meant it could remain summer all year round. Hard to imagine now isn’t it!

Despite being surrounded on all sides by the ocean of Panthalassa, everyone alive at the time found life on land either unfashionable or unforeseeable as possible habitat and ignored it completely.

Until or unless nature found a way, none of them were going to be interested in taking the risk and face almost immediate suffocation and death, especially when there’s already enough food and warmth in the sea and no pressing need to venture out that far for anything.

And no one would for the first 3.1 billion years until evolution produced amphibians (meaning double life); creatures who had legs or webbed feet to crawl and move about more freely on the surface with (and could biologically thrive on both), emerged hence the name.

Surprisingly, amphibians came from fish and other sea animals who didn’t have legs or the biological internal organs within their bodies needed to survive on land, yet they were given them and naturally transformed into mobile land-trekking animals after staying on land for some time. Today most amphibians are frogs who spend up to 80% of their lives in or near the water.

At the same time the Sahara (which means desert in Arabic) was as unlivable for us just as it is now but for different reasons, and being full of ice and glaciers only wandering fish-like creatures known to have been around then, may have visited it occasionally.

However, at a later date excavations and cave drawings show hunters once used to chase giraffes, elephants and even hippopotamuses. Other scenes show musicians playing for women with elaborate hairstyles all until regular rainfall declined and the area dried up.

Similarly New York was a sticky swamp 300 million years ago but a scorching hot desert 50 million years later. Even icy Antarctica was once home to dinosaurs when it was a much sunnier and brighter place.

Before and during the dinosaur era, animals like crocodiles, turtles, insects and jellyfish could be seen all over. Many may have been as tiny and vulnerable as today's rats and mice in size compared to larger hunters and predators.

Later other sea creatures like Sharks and a variety of ancient fish (some of whom had no teeth or jaws), spiders, snails, scorpions and cockroaches also appeared for the first time before air-breathing creatures known as mammals came into existence.

Mammals and Reptiles

A mammal is a living being that is found all over the World in various shapes and sizes that breathes air, feeds their new born babies with milk, looks after their young for a long period, has a fur coat and a large brain.

Most of them live on land, although many are able to adapt to the water and some to freezing cold conditions. On land they include elephants, horses, rhinoceros’s, hippos and of course ourselves. Whales, dolphins, seals and walrus’s are among those that live mainly in the sea.

Reptiles, the older of the two and successors to amphibians, on the other hand are creatures like crocodiles, snakes, lizards and turtles with tough scaly and dry waterproof skin and unlike mammals lay eggs instead of giving birth to live babies.

They don't however, like mammals, have something in their brain to keep their bodies at the same temperature all the time. They also live mostly on land but constantly need to cool off and rely on the Sun to give them warmth and energy.

This is why reptiles are described as exothermic or cold-blooded, even though their blood and bodies are just as warm as mammals, which are said to be endothermic or warm-blooded. They are mostly found in hot or warm places of the World for the same reason.

The growth of plants later helped to boost the mammal population to what we know today; their diet had once been insects only. As the earliest mammals were no competition for the dinosaurs there was a limit to who and what they could catch for dinner.

Many of today's mammals and reptiles are said to be directly descended from them, since large numbers of their earliest ancestors, some of whom would look very unusual to us if we saw them, also died out altogether on different dates.

Surprisingly mammals made a rapid and almost immediate comeback after their larger neighbours became extinct. Over time, they would grow in size, vary in shape and dominate the earth. Perhaps it wasn't the weather that had reduced their numbers after all.


Up to 900 different types of dinosaurs have been identified since the 1820s (when people first took an interest in them) although scientists believe there may be up to 1, 300 in total, which would make another four hundred yet to be discovered and identified.

Some were smaller than chickens and turkeys and others larger than six storey buildings. Their bones had been found hundreds of years ago but were ignored and sometimes mistaken for other things like evidence for titans or human giants.

Scientists are still unsure if the dinosaurs were mammals, reptiles or, as some believe perhaps both. Many now think they may have been cold-blooded and evolved from 'ruling reptiles', who looked a bit like crocodiles, and were the first creatures to live entirely on land around 20 million years before their more famous descendants in 250 million B.C.E (Before the Common Era)

Since 1500, there was much controversy over the origin of dinosaur fossils (remains) and bones. One group said they represented prehistoric plants and animals. Opposed to them were others who thought the fossils were unnatural or creations of the devil.

Two hundred years later, many people believed that all such fossils were the remains of those animals that boarded Noah’s Ark. Charles Darwin and others challenged this view bitterly until modern excavations proved the flood was not the source.

Before the 1800s few people knew what they were, even the Chinese once thought their bones belonged to dragons and Christian theologians refused to believe God would allow any race to be completely wiped out.

This particular race had lived for 160-185 million years starting when Europe could boast of having lush, sunny and scorching tropical terrain 230 million years ago and rule until 65 million years ago when the first large mammals began to appear and many birds had begun to flourish.

Their existence on earth is divided into three ages; the Triassic period between 250-206 million years ago when dinosaurs first appeared, the Jurassic period between 206-144 million years ago when they were most in number and the Cretaceous period 144-65 million years ago when they died out altogether.

In the air small sized Pterosaurs (flying reptiles) with massive bat-like wings reigned before birds, but unlike them possessed no feathers and may have used their muscular arms to support them in flight. Some could glide long distances, a few could swoop and dive at great speed and many had sharp teeth as well as large strong beaks.

In the Cretaceous period (named after chalk layers where dinosaur fossils of this period were found), Pterosaurs became a lot larger. One among them, the Pteranodon, at nearly 7 feet long with wings of 7 metres across could still fly and fast, although the record is held by Quetzalcoatlus whose wings alone spread an amazing 12 metres.

One of the first birds, Archaeopteryx, which developed during the same era, was almost as unusual. It had teeth instead of a beak, clawed fingers and may also have been able to climb trees. Confuciusornis however, another bird of the same time had a beak, no teeth and had feathers very similar to today’s birds showing that variation existed then just as it does now.

Since then it has been discovered a few other birds of different periods (some of which are still alive and well) had similar patterns like possessing claws and contrary to earlier opinions, the Archaeopteryx and others like it were able to fly very well and could not possibly have evolved from dinosaurs. Another theory suggests the Archaeopteryx, like modern ostriches, could initially fly but later lost that ability.

In the seas a variety of fish like the Shonisaurus of the Triassic period (meaning three from the three-layered rocks where the first dinosaurs have been discovered) was a cross between a shark and a dolphin and dominated the oceans. At 15 metres long wading in the seas it looked like a fearsome hunter but despite its giant snout and strong jaws it probably only ate small fish.

Grouped into three major reptile groups; the Plesiosaurs who all looked a bit like the Loch Ness Monster with their stretched necks and gigantic bodies, the lizard-like Ichthyosaurs such as the Shonisaurus and last but not least ancient turtles.

Some of these sea animals could be just as fierce and dangerous as some dinosaurs but perhaps luckily for everyone, the main diet was other fish and possibly some mammals if they strayed in or too near the water.

Only the turtles would survive to this day and not die out with the dinosaurs. They are one of the few animals who can still live up to 200 years. One turtle given as a gift to the King of Tonga, an island near Fiji, by Captain Cook in the 1770s remained alive until the 1960s.

But dinosaurs may never have had the same chance to survive that long even if they tried. New evidence suggests colossal crocodiles at 30 feet long and 10 times heavier than today actually ate dinosaurs. If not better than dinosaurs, they were at least a worthy match.

Less able were the emerging insects, then made up of moths, beetles, grasshoppers, termites and flies who came 195 million years ago during the Jurassic period (named after the Jurra Mountains in France).

Today there are perhaps 1 million different types of insects in the World, making it the largest variety of any kind in the animal kingdom, lots of which have remained relatively unchanged both in physical appearance, size and structure across many generations.

Unlike insects, none of the dinosaurs could fly, glide or live in the water, but would still spread across the globe. At the time the lands were still largely connected to each other and it was much easier to go from place to place.

It would not be until 180 million years ago that the great Super continent of Pangaea would start to break up and give us two separate Super continents; one known as Laurasia in the North and the other as Gondwana in the South. The latter was comprised of what would one day be South America, Africa, India, Australia, and Antarctica.

The present map of the World would not materialize until 40 million years ago, about ninety-five million years after it first started to take shape. Before then even Sunny Africa was once near the South Pole.

This would account for some creatures like the Minmi, to be permanently isolated from other groups like it and found only in Australia, too far away from where most dinosaur bones and fossils have been discovered. As it couldn't swim, it's unlikely to have gone there because it wanted too.

Paleontologists (who study early life forms) say, no dinosaur could or would voluntarily travel such huge distances from one continent to the other and survive, especially in the water for anything, even in a desperate search for food or to flee from dangerous predators.

To a lot of people, the only major extinction they are aware of is of the dinosaurs, but at least five more major extinctions similar to the them happened over the last 600 million years, and some scientists claim that up to eight may have occurred during the last 250 million years.

At least one, twenty million years before the dinosaurs arrived, reduced the vast majority of all living things (almost four fifths according to scientists) across the planet 250 million years ago, which to date remains the largest loss of life ever, although explanations for it are still not fully known.

An explosion in space two million years ago might have the answer; many molluscs (tiny soft bodied animals with hard shells such as snails and oysters) disappeared permanently as a result of a barrage of cosmic rays that penetrated into the Earth’s atmosphere.

The after-effects may also have severely reduced or contaminated the food supply of particular animals that lived off the land forcing them, and later others to either starve, select a different diet or migrate.

If one detonation of matter and energy in space could suddenly wipe out and deplete specific species, could another with more force and firepower not have done the same to a larger variety of life much earlier and, perhaps do the same a lot later in our own time to us as well?

In the event of nuclear war, which may produce similar results, scientists believe only cockroaches will survive as a species and maybe even in large numbers and possibly adapt to what's left of the World and continue to breed without difficulty.

Origin: The Human Race

There are so many official and unofficial theories over the beginnings and origin of human beings (who scientists say belong to the animal kingdom) that I will choose to share with you just one of them which has gained a lot of prevalence in modern times.

An 'unofficial' view is that 50 million years ago, fifteen million years after the dinosaurs had died out the primates appeared. They looked like squirrels and over millions of years slowly began to change shape.

Eventually they became apes and monkeys 30 million years ago and later came down from the trees. It is said by some an ancient Orangutan may be the missing link and ancestor of both. The meaning of the name ‘Old Man of the Forest’ would not then be too far out that way from the truth.

At an unknown date and no one knows exactly how or why, the permanent separation between actual apes and humans occurred where one group would continue to reproduce monkeys and gorillas and the other the emerging human race.

The Hominids (early men that still looked like monkeys) like the Homo Habilis, later developed from the first land-trekking apes about 2.5- 2 million years ago until the appearance of the first ‘wise men’.

The 'Neanderthals' (named after a valley in Germany), who looked nothing like monkeys compared to their earlier ancestors initiated some of the earliest habits and manners not known to exist amongst animals like burying their dead and mourning over them for long periods.

They would be the last in the line of semi-intelligent people and first human like group to walk the earth before the coming of the modern species, who it seems didn’t descend from or bear much resemblance to them.

Nor are the Neanderthals, unlike all others before them, known to (or perhaps needed to) nurture, develop and grow into something else. If humanity has since come full circle, maybe it can’t continue to reproduce and evolve into other forms beyond us or then again maybe it can?

Around the same period, animals like the Sabre toothed-tiger and sloth died out practically everywhere across the planet and many of the mountains reached their present heights and shapes. However, some mountains in the Himalayas are still growing whilst other elsewhere are getting smaller.

Llamas, camels, yaks and some horses became extinct completely in North America, out of them only horses would re-appear on the continent but not until the 1500s and still they had to be imported from overseas by people who didn’t even live there.

Stages of Human Evolution

According to evolutionists five different types of human beings have come, four of which before us; the latest or newest humans, known scientifically as Homo Sapiens Sapiens (Very Intelligent Man) or Cro-Magnon Man (named after a site in France). These are-

1.) Southern [African] Ape (Also called Australopithecus) These were the first creatures to come down from the trees 4 million years ago possibly in search of fruits and berries and died out 1.5 million years ago. Length of time on earth, 2.5 million years.

It would take another 1.5 million years for the next type of human to evolve from them and 3.9 million years in total before evolution would end its cycle permanently with the birth of the modern human race. Strangely evolution actually refers to an ‘ongoing’ process yet it ‘officially’ ended with us and can’t seem to progress any further.

The bones and footprints of such beings (who were only 1 metre tall anyway) have been found and are still visible in Africa, the only place they are known to have been. Their only claim to fame is to leave the trees, walk upright on two legs instead of all fours, enjoy the feeling, get used to it and resist the temptation to go back up.

2.) Handy Man. (Also called Homo Habilis) The first humans to have never known what life was like with other monkeys on the trees, appeared 2.5 million years ago and died out 1.5 million years ago. Length of time on earth, 1 million years.

They are credited with being the first to invent tools, spears, axes and knives for hunting as well as fire to cook and scare off enemies. It is with this discovery science and the Stone Age was born. Like the Southern Apes, they didn't venture out of African soil either.

The size and shape of the brain is also larger just as their bodies show smaller jaws, fewer canine teeth and longer arms than both actual monkeys of yesteryear as well as today and the Southern Apes.

3.) Upright Man. (Also called Homo Erectus). These people came 2 million-1.5 million years ago and lasted until 200, 000 years ago. Length of time on earth, 1.8 million years. They were the first to travel to Asia around 1.8 million years ago and to Europe 700, 000 years ago as well as the first to wear clothes.

The first three types of human beings then, actually existed at the same time and may have either observed and noticed each other or even lived alongside together 1.5 million years ago. Imagine that if you can!

1.5 million years ago though the very first human-like creatures, the Southern Apes, would die out as well although no one knows how or why. The next two types emerged a lot quicker and not after millions of years as had happened between the first and second group.

4.) Neanderthals (Homo Sapiens or Intelligent Man).

The more muscular and bulkier Neanderthals came, a few theorists suggest 200, 000 years ago, whilst many also say they came 120, 000 years ago and died out 33-35, 000 years ago. Length of time on earth, 170, 000 years if we accept the first view and 90, 000 years according to others.

If the second view is correct, then for 80, 000 years from 200, 000 years until 120, 000 years ago we don't seem to know what type of human being, if at all, actually existed. That's 800 Centuries of complete mystery!

Whatever the date it is still the shortest on record of all types of monkey-like human beings to last as none continue to exist (with one exception of course) and the only type to have seen the finished product-us.

Still some theorists suggest Neanderthals appeared at least 400, 000 years ago which would mean they may have come into contact and co-existed with their predecessors, Upright Man or Homo Erectus, for their first 200, 000 years of their existence. However, this is not 'officially' accepted by many historians.

Even after the arrival of the last human group (ourselves) the Neanderthals were better physically suited to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, the colder climate and the nomadic existence, which the newcomers had to quickly get used to or die trying.

Studies have also shown they had bigger and more developed brains than modern humans as well and could solve complex problems. Still it’s us who are decorated with the label ‘very intelligent man’ and they have to be content with being seen as ‘primitive’ and this is despite their other titles such as ‘wise man’.

Ironically perhaps, the same skinnier, weaker, less able, intelligent and inexperienced group from other continents didn't just survive but also outlived and advanced much further than their more efficient cousins ever did.

5.) Modern Humans (Homo Sapiens Sapiens or Cro Magnon Man). We are said to have arrived or evolved at least 100, 000 years ago, whilst some others say 200, 000 years ago, and may have moved to what was then icy cold Europe from a much warmer climate in Asia and Africa where we met, but not evolved from, the Neanderthals 40, 000 years ago.

That' at least 60, 000 years of wandering and physical existence before finding others that looked like us! What happened when we found them is anyone's guess. Seven thousand years later however in 33, 000 B.C.E, after living side by side and possibly co-existing with modern humans the Neanderthals became extinct. Did we have anything to do with it perhaps?

Some evidence has been found to show the two species may have met and lived together happily a lot earlier in Asia without consequence. The same could not be said of later life in Europe between the two.

To this day no one can really explain what happened to the Neanderthals and why their death was so sudden. There was no shortage in food supply or land to settle in and they are not thought to have been very aggressive towards anyone.

The emerging vacuum, whether it was good or bad or not, allegedly left modern humans to search, forage and dominate the Earth as the only one of its kind. Despite that it would take us another 18, 000 years just to do it.

That means we have only spread across the globe in the last 15, 000 years. Then, most of North America, Europe, Asia, New Zealand and southern Argentina, up to a third of the planet in total, was covered with vast thick ice sheets and frozen glaciers everywhere.

This was the Ice Age (which were long periods of intensely cold and freezing weather) the fourth and last of its kind in the last 1.6 billion years, with up to 17 glacial era’s (when already freezing temperatures in Europe plummeted further to impossible levels) within it, but only the first, both sets of human beings would see.

It was still possible then to travel across some lands separated by large oceans through natural land bridges. North America was connected to Northern Asia by dry land known as Beringia, just as Europe was adjoined to England through a similar link until 6, 000 B.C.E

The last major glacial era didn’t happen until 24, 000 B.C.E, nine thousand years after the Neanderthals left with the worst ever eight thousand years after that. Even so Neanderthals had survived glacial ages and other scenarios before and were well aware of how to equip themselves for difficult times ahead.

When the Ice Age ended around 10, 000 B.C.E after an incredible and enduring two million years most mammoths, woolly rhinoceros’s, reindeer, elk and musk oxen would disappear altogether along with other animals like them, unable to adapt to the warmer weather and possibly also due to the growth of human hunters.

A few mammoth’s would still linger on for a further millennium in some parts of the World, whilst others living on an island in the Arctic Ocean would survive for another six thousand years until 4, 000 B.C.E They were much smaller and unlike their cousins in Europe didn't have to worry about warmer temperatures.

The changing climates across the globe also brought some advantages as well. The new lakes, landscapes, valleys and hills carved out by the melting ice caps may have encouraged people to move nearer to streams and rivers in search of better means of survival instead of life in rock shelters and caves.

In countries where there were no trees to make wooden homes and caves were less or already occupied by other families, people had built huts and tents made up entirely of mammoth bones and tusks which were covered with animal skin for extra warmth, even then they always had to be close to the nearest stream.

Before modern humans, all our ancestors tended to travel from place to place with no permanent homes or settlements. With everywhere covered in snow, they didn't have much of a choice anyway.

Our earlier ancestors, it is claimed only bred, cooked, made tools, hunted and buried their dead having no other purpose before now. The Neanderthals, did however advance in one field before us; communication. They are alleged to have been the first humans to invent language and actually talk to each other in a similar way to ourselves.

Some historians once added a sixth type of human, the Ramapithecus, who came around fifteen to twenty million years ago as the first or real primates. Since they had no relation to humans whatsoever and are no different from monkeys they were put to one side by many evolutionists.

If we were to accept the Ramapithecus as part of the human cycle, then at least 11 million years passed before the next human, the Southern Ape, came about. Unlike all other humans, if we can call them that, they actually had thick coats of fur, looked very much like today's monkeys and swung from tree to tree.

What let them down as being human or historically important is that they stayed on the trees. Compared to others who came after them, their physical characteristics are not that impressive or significant if their social habits and behaviours; in short their love of the trees, remained the same. It’s now been accepted they were just ancient monkeys only.

By the time the next significant form of monkey arrived however, the fur had been reduced or become hair instead and the ability to live, survive and subsist on the trees was lost for good with the last time human apes and modern monkeys would share the same branches.

How long the Southern Apes remained on the trees before coming down permanently, how long it took for their bodies to become fully erect and their toes to be bipedal form and if they learned to adapt from looking at other animals may also possibly never be answered.

The beginning of civilization

It wasn't until 10, 000 B.C.E, (some say 9, 000 B.C.E) which is 12, 000 years ago, in the Neolithic (and last of the) Stone Age, when the World's population was probably only eight million, did human beings start living in villages.

Even if the idea was not new, it had been impractical if not suicidal, until after the ice age had ended to build sizeable communities outside warm shelters like caves as alternative homes when vast plains of land were still completely immersed in sleet and snow.

But the big change for most people from simple lives to modern development happened, some say is, due to the birth of farming and agriculture. By using and growing plants it was now possible to feed hundreds of people and animals while living in the same place.

Such a possibility, especially in the same location for life instead of regular migrations, seemed both unusual and unlikely to most people before now, just as living on the moon does to many of us today.

Work could now be specialized, tasks could be delegated and some form of order was now possible, although hunting did not disappear bows and arrows replaced spears and axes. Historians also add many people still chose to live in caves at this point.

Our ancestors it is claimed, did not keep a steady supply of food stored away for another time before now, and were always content to move on to different sites whenever they ran out, although everyone was always given a share regardless of whether they had hunted or not.

Dogs, sheep, pigs, cows, goats, hens and other animals would also be domesticated for the first time around now, although horses and cats wouldn't be for another six thousand years until around 3, 500 B.C.E, the latter by the ancient Egyptians and originally just to control rats and mice in the royal palaces.

Even llamas, guinea pigs and turkeys were kept as farm animals initially while people kept most animals only for their meat. it would be a long time before goats started being milked and even later for cows.

Some animals like wild wolves, unlike today, were also tamed for human needs and especially for hunting even before villages were built. These creatures were said to be the ancestors of today's dogs who first appeared 40, 000 years ago.

Some form of dog had existed however long before that, but the earliest ones like the Phlaocyon looked a little like raccoons and were covered in fur instead of hair over forty million years ago.

Around then South America had only recently been explored, the only continent we can almost be sure no earlier types of human had set foot on or so we think. Even Australia had been inhabited over sixty thousand years ago, possibly by Neanderthals. Settlements have been found dated fifteen thousand years ago to the tip of Chile and Argentina.

Interestingly enough historians point to this period when people initially started to live permanently in one place across the World, did human beings begin to change colour, complexion and pigmentation for the first time.

Human beings who lived in the sunny areas of Africa grew black or brown skins and thick wiry black hair. Towards the north, where the Sun’s rays were not as hot the skin was pale or pinkish-white.

Those living in Central Asia developed what looked to be slanted eyes due to the excess fold of skin on the eyelids that shielded eyes from the cold as well as extra body fat and a high body temperature.

If any of the above is the case, one has to wonder what colour did we have to begin with around this time and what we originally looked like. We had to be something didn't we. Were we brown, black, white or mixed. This might remain obscure for life.

It also suggests that recorded (or at least civilized) history may again be less than we think, although learning to write and creating functioning societies would take another three thousand years, even historians would emerge around then giving us the first glimpse of their World.

Towns and cities may have come up to four thousand years afterwards and originally only in the Middle East, Egypt and parts of Asia with the growth of kingdoms, empires and increases in World population, which by 1 C.E (Common Era) stood at 255 million.

The first major civilization, the Kingdom of Egypt grew up in 3,100 B.C.E, five thousand years ago (although people had lived there since 8, 000 B.C.E). It would last three thousand five hundred years, that’s up to thirty-five Centuries if you think about it.

The Future

Icebergs and glaciers will once again be dominant across many places with the return of the Ice Age, although where and when we don't know. Each ice age has lasted millions of years (the longest being 70 million years) the question is how will we cope once it arrives.

Just as Australia broke off from Antarctica so did India and Arabia from Africa, as will other parts of Africa along the Great Rift Valley. It is also thought North and South America will also detach from each other. Where will Central America, which connects the two continents, go afterwards, if it remains above water that is.

Today Australia is under the equator; tomorrow it may be above it, as it continues to move further north into Asia just as India, once an island near the equator, did 65 million years ago after a large volcanic eruption immersed most of it in lava.

Large deserts across the planet like the Sahara are likely to submerge the cities, the World will be 40 C hotter by the middle of the 21st Century and the Atlantic Ocean will continue to expand forcing North America and Europe to drift even further apart. It is said distance makes the hearts grow fonder, so who knows what will happen.

Perhaps more worrying is the Sun's supply of hydrogen will run out and its energy will collapse causing it to swell, possibly explode, and end its life as the earth's chief source of light and warmth. The good news is no day will be cold, dark and dull immediately afterwards or ever again.

The bad news is the Sun will take the earth down with it when it goes but it won't happen for another five billion years, the longest a medium sized star can last. If it had been a bigger and brighter star the Sun’s light would have burned out after ten million years, long before the Earth, human beings or any kind of life form even came into being.

Some scientists think the Universe will, in billions of years, shrink and everything in it will be forced to join together in one large squeeze and might cause another Big Bang. What will happen after that, they are not prepared to say. However, even if it does happen it won’t for the next 20 billion years. A once popular theory, now rejected, also suggests the Universe expands and contracts every 80 billion years.

Others believe it may continue to expand forever into what they call ‘dark matter’ or as we know it outer space. If true, there’s no limit to how many planets, solar systems and galaxies we could find and who knows we might even discover some with an atmosphere like ours and is rich and overflowing with oxygen and water.

Originally it was suspected the colour of the Universe was blue, not by ancient communities but by scientists and astronomers (just remember how vast and to a certain extent ‘shapeless’ it is when you think about it) but is slowly becoming greener and will one day turn red.

This idea may have stemmed from viewing the stars and the rich variety of bright colours it displays during its lifetime and when it explodes and dies leaving traces of its existence for us to see. If any of us were to see a live star at a much closer distance where it is now at present instead of where it once was millions of years ago, we would become blind.

The amazing quality of the stars is so many exist, some are known and have been named but millions more are still invisible to the naked eye. Despite the colossal size of a huge number of them, some larger and vastly hotter than the Sun, we cannot even hope to see them at their exact location and they appear to us only at certain distances away from the Earth and at specific times in their lives.

A Little Digression

1. The oldest pyramid built over four thousand years ago is in Egypt, but a few others were built among less ancient communities like the Maya in Guatemala (1000 BC-900 C.E) the Anasazi in Mexico (700-750 C.E), and the Toltecs (930-1000 C.E) and Aztecs (1325-1521) both in Mexico.

Step-pyramids (which are rectangular or square shaped in form) like those of the like the Olmecs in Mexico (1200-300 B.C.E) or the Ziggurat temples that existed in Babylonia and Mesopotamia in the Middle East (about 1250 B.C.E and some say even 1, 000 years earlier than that).

Another pyramid discovered under the sea in 1996 though near Yonaguni, an island in Japan, nowhere either of them, looks as if it might have been built at least 10, 000 years ago. If this is true, then true civilization (i.e. living in organized communities/ established societies) did not first begin at that time and must have happened a lot earlier.

This was the last possible time it could have erected when land still covered the area, that the sea now occupies. That is of course unless human beings or someone else built it under water deliberately in the first place at a much later date, which seems even less plausible when you think about it.

The Egyptians don’t have a monopoly on picture writing either. Hieroglyphics was also used by the Zapotecs (200 C.E) in Mexico. Similarly the face of a sphinx, a stone beast with the head of a human and a body of a lion, that allegedly guards the Egyptian pyramids, has also been sighted on the surface of Mars and has a very close resemblance to the Earthly model.

2. Only 21% of the atmosphere contains oxygen, most of the rest is nitrogen. However, if oxygen were to increase, animal life might face a huge threat to their very existence and even the Earth might soon start to disintegrate.

Plants would die out sooner or later; that means more Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere, as plants convert some of it to oxygen, their absence would generate a higher overall temperature on Earth.

Oxygen and nitrogen also exists on Mars but the surface pressure is too low for water to subsist and survive in a liquid state. Water has grown naturally on Earth however through a recycling process since the first rainstorms and amazingly without any human help.

Similarly, without Carbon Dioxide and even bacteria, who have unjustifiably gained a notorious reputation, life on Earth would be either very difficult, almost impossible or perhaps even unlikely.

For one thing, plants and maybe also trees would die out quickly and all purely plant-eating animals would have little or nothing to eat. Only by altering their dietary needs and digestive systems to make other foods edible for themselves could they survive.

One theory says all meat-eating dinosaurs starved when their primary nutritional intake, the plant eaters who themselves made up two thirds of all dinosaurs, vanished as a result of changing living conditions and surroundings.

3. Mount Everest is the largest mountain on land, but Mauna Kea (White Mountain) near Hawaii is 1, 300 times bigger. Most of it though is submerged under the sea and so is not as hard to conquer for rock climber and mountaineers, unless of course they started their trek from under there.

Chimborazo, another mountain peak, this time under the equator in Ecuador is actually 7,054 ft higher than Mt Everest. Like Mauna Kea, which is also smaller than it’s South American counterpart at 33, 000 ft, it is discounted as a challenger.

The Earth’s radius (a straight line from the centre to the circumference of a circle or boundary) in Ecuador is longer than its radius at the latitude of Mount Everest hence due to a technical fault, this time by nature, it is smaller.

Similarly Olympus Mons, an inactive or dormant volcanic mountain, is 1.3 times larger than Everest any way you wish to measure it, but it is still doesn’t count since it’s on Mars and not on Planet Earth.

It is claimed a British team of mountaineers scaled Everest successfully in the 1920s, thirty years before the official date in 1953, but no member of the group came down alive to tell the story or was ever seen again.

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