I’ve been giving this a lot of thought recently and I’m pretty certain that in the matter of the evolution of life on this planet Australia was the original test lab. Stay with me for a moment here ’cause honest it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Around 200 million years ago the continent of Australia was still part of the large landmass we now call Gondwanaland when the waters surrounding it began to rise.
It was at this point that we find the first indications of life leaving the ocean and walking on the land. In fact it was smack bang on what is now the coast of Western Australia that scientists believe that the first vertebrate animal evolved in the ocean [jawless fish who evolved in the massive inland sea due to the rising waters].
All of which is fascinating no doubt but it does go to provide at least a little credibility to my idea of a test lab for evolution right in the middle of Australia. There are just so many animals here that don’t make sense and do not relate in any true way to others around the world or if they do it is only in the smallest of characteristics. I know, I know every country has their native animals that are unique to their climate and yada yada yada BUT they also as a rule fit into types, species and family that allow them to be classified using distinctive characteristics. [Linnaean system of classification]
Australia on the other hand takes that system and just flushes it down the proverbial crapper and then if that is not enough insult it proceeds to produce a variety of most deadly variations of those few examples of fauna that can be classified. This theory came into clear focus yesterday after reading and then posting about the Jumping Peacock Spider.
It’s as if that great scientist in the sky set up shop in Australia to see what would work and what wouldn’t. Some things evolved the way they should and others didn’t, some worked and others while working just didn’t seem practical and some I’m pretty sure were just for fun. After playing in the petri dish that became Australia this scientist decides to take his show on the road. Dusting off his hands and collecting up the samples with which he is most pleased and toddles off to Africa to start the whole process using the results of his experiments in Australia.
Small problem, which becomes a bit of an embarrassment millennium later is that on leaving the lab – he forgot to clean up. Some time after that Australia became fully separated from Gondwanaland and then finally from Papua New Guinea and as a result the LAB ANIMALS have the perfect isolated environment in which to evolve into the myriad of creatures that we have today.
The whole reason we have so many of a variety of things such as ants [1300 species here in Oz], snakes [175 species, 100 of which are venomous] and spiders [10 000 species out of 35000 world wide are only found in Australia] makes sense if Australia was actually a test lab. If it was, in fact, where all the different possibilities regarding evolution were looked at, measured and decided if to pursue or not, especially if said lab was not cleaned up afterward and the remaining biological petri dishes were allowed to pursue their own evolutionary paths.
I mean LOOK at the platypus, it’s a mammal but lays eggs, it has fur but also webbed feet and a ducks bill and can live in OR out of the water – go on try and tell me that happened outside of a lab or at least without some sort of conscious effort [although it does appear that is may be an example of the dangers of working while stoned]. As for some of the marine life – just don’t get me started on the variety of the weird and the wonderful.
This country, the oldest continent on the planet, hosts such a variety of the beautiful, the ugly, the strange and the deadly. It is a gift like no other and like a gift it should be treasured and treated with the respect such a gift deserves. So evolution, test lab, miracle or something else entirely, it doesn’t really matter in the end, what matters is doing what we can to preserve and protect all of this planets life so that it may continue and that we will continue also.