I have always wondered why nature didn’t stop with the bacteria. Those kids had it all. They had absolute and complete distribution throughout this blue orb in space we call home. Early bacteria transformed the air from a raging sulfurous stew to the docile nitrogen/oxygen/etc mix we call air. They created the topsoil, a seething battleground where empires are built daily upon the bodies of untold predecessors. And in the process they transformed barren crust into fertile soil for a million future generations.
After you’ve conquered and altered an entire planet where do you go from there?
If the answer that popped into in your head was. “Jump into the car and get a burger with fries”, you are correct. In fact, nature evolved here on Earth for the past 4 billion years EXACTLY so you can jump into your car and get a burger with fries. The fact that you are doing so is in fact, proof of intent.
For the first billion years pretty much all of life on earth was bacteria. But since nature, like adolescents everywhere, strive towards increasing complexity life marched on. Why bother! What is wrong with untold gazillions of Microcritters squirming around in endless polymorphous perversity? WHY did Nature decide to recreate the whole thing on a Macro scale when it had it all going down on the Micro level already?
Standard answers like, “Because!” and “I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you,” don’t cut it here in the world of pop science literature 101. We must therefore default to the “Common Sense Approach” (Darn uncommon!):
“The fact something is so is proof of intent.”
Macro-critters world did not arise out of nothing. All animal life (that includes you Cinderella) are descended from some of my favorite crazy creatures fetchingly called Slime Molds. “Yes Princess, you father IS in fact progeny of a Slime Mold.”
I propose the formation of a new PR organization to lobby for a revamped image for these Honored Ancestors. There must be something sexier sounding than Slime Molds out there. How about Macroscellular Transmogrifiers? Check this out:
Slime molds start out as amoeba looking things running around being happy microbes. But when food gets scarce (I am unable to ascertain what a Slime Molds actually eats so you will have to fill in this part using your imagination)… when food gets scarce they come together and turn themselves into a worm. What! Microbes coming together to form Macrobes! Then they inch along in fine wormy fashion, apparently able to sense molecules and head into Prime Slime Real Estate to put up shop.
Once they have found their new Slime Mold Shangri-La they plant themselves into the ground and grow a stalk which looks to this unbiased observer distinctly fungus like, a category in which they were formerly grouped. Eventually these faux-fungus’s pop out a crop of spores from the top of their “heads”; which fly in the wind spreading happy slime mold babies throughout the land. These proceed to live their natural course as microscopic amoebic like creatures, repeating the cycle again and again through time and space and millennia untold.
I love Slime Molds because they bridge the gap between Microbes and Macrobes; between the unseen Micro-world and the Macro one we all exist in. If we can understand how thousands, or even billions of individual cells and bacteria can become one functioning sentient being, we could perhaps begin to understand what Life actually is; rather than endlessly describing its symptoms. And perhaps we could then understand what Love is, that mysterious force that makes all living things thrive.
Bacteria transformed a barren planet into a green one, fecund and prosperous with life forms. Long after we, dear reader are forgotten beyond time, bacteria will thrive and continue to alter their environment to make it suitable for future Macro life forms.
Thank you bacteria!
This article originally appeared in Green Energy Times.