17 Jan 2012
An uncontrolled explosion of insect numbers (Chitter Goo) caused the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) , when an enormous pulse of atmospheric carbon raised the average global temperature 9F , melted all ice and caused widespread speciation .
PETM was about 56 Million Years Ago(MYA) , lasting about 150 000 years before stabilizing .
The initial CO2 spike was about 3 trillion metric tons of carbon (3x10^12) , with a trailing , decreasing extra production of 1.5 trillion metric tons of carbon (1.5x10^12)
Present day production of CO2 by insects is about 48 Billion metric tons of carbon per year .(48x10^9) Google it .
The ratio of PETM insects to present day insects needed to create a pulse of PETM size is then
n= (3x10^12 ) / (48x10^9 )
This is kinda small . The system is more fragile than I thought .
The last time around :
World average temperature increased 9F ( 68F - 77F)
For a fuller discussion , see “National Geographic” Oct 2011 p 90 “World without Ice”
What caused the spike ?
The culprit seems to be insects .
The fossil evidence of plants show extensive insect damage . This has been taken as being the result of increased insect depredation due to warming .
But invert the argument .
1.After the KT event , (65 MTA) , ecosystems had become unravelled . Checks-and-balances were not as smooth as they used to be .
2.An arms race between dinosaur survivors (ie birds) and insects ensued , which the insects won . Even today , birds alone cannot keep insect numbers in check . (Locusts)
Birds tried , but intra-species competition drove them towards larger sizes , while insects went smaller . The well-known dwarfism of the PETM . This opened the niche for small insectivores like mammals .
3.A random event initiated runaway positive feedback insect increases .
4The Feedback Mechanisms :
4.1Higher CO2 levels inhibit plant defenses (See Appendix I)
4.2Higher levels of CO2 is an attractant to insects (eg used as a mosquito lure)
4.3Dwarfism and early maturity in prey and gigantism in predators .
Small ants form super colonies .
Doubtlessly there are other feedback factors . But these are sufficient to turn a localised random event (like a clathrate burp) into a positive feedback process , eventually swallowing the whole planet .
Chitter Goo .
Insects ate nearly all available carbon .
Indelible memories are laid down in all mammals .Real instincts .
Counter Chitter Goo :
Evolutionary explosion of mammals , notably bats . A side note are horses , cows and primates .
This must have triggered instability in the oceans .
Indeed , the major extinctions of the period were in Foraminifera on the sea-bottoms .(50% of species) .
Green Goo must have acted as a CO2 sink to the results of Chitter Goo .
Not exactly a smooth process .
See Appendix II for clues .
Epigenetic Effects .
This has doubtlessly happened many times before . Lifeforms have mechanisms for coping with it .
Things to watch out for :
1.Dwarfism and earlier maturity . Biomass and variety increases
This is an adaptation to rising temperatures and over-predation .
2.Gigantism of predators
The initial over predation by larger predators masks the effect in para 1 .
Eg . The cod of Newfoundland Bank have not disappeared , but skedaddled northwards under the arctic icecap in large numbers of smaller fish . As the icecap disappears , they will re-emerge and resume normal size .
3.Resurgence of whale numbers .
See http://andreswhy.blogspot.com “Why whales are so large” Aug 2011
Figure out why yourself .
4.Fungi-farming insects will increase at least pari-passu with decrease in non-angioform areas .
Super colonies .
Note what is happening to bats . The most formidable insectivore in the mammalian armory .
They are being killed by fungi . Correlate this with ant invasions .
See Appendix III for Gaia's feedback systems .
Global Warming . What does it mean for us in 2012 ?
You might as well drive your gas-guzzler .
It means that Gaia has PTSD as far as rapid warming is concerned . Living systems have already initiated adaptation protocols . Minor CO2 fluctuations will make no difference . The best humans can do is to encourage Green Goo . Breeding or creating insectivores will help .
Move inland .
Hell , move off-planet .
Get the fungi on your side with huge fungi sewerage reclamation ponds , dumps or sites .
The tipping point is well past .
Does the speed of warming matter?
The PTSD-like effect has already taken care of it .
Biological systems are already adapting to higher temperatures .
It is only human sociological systems that cannot get with the program .
An Ironic Note :
Large oil , gas , fishing property , etc rights will make Eskimo's the richest people on the planet .
(Think Arabs and oil , only more so)
They will have a hankering to the Good Old Days .
Sell ice to the Eskimo's .
The team turned its attention to the hormonal signaling pathways of the plants, focusing on a key defensive chemical the plants produced to ward off an insect attack. When insects eat their leaves, soybeans and other plants produce a hormone, jasmonic acid, that starts a chain of chemical reactions in the leaves that boost their defenses. Normally this cascade leads to the production of high levels of a compound called a protease inhibitor. When the insects ingest this enzyme, it inhibits their ability to digest the leaves.
"What we discovered is that leaves grown under high CO2 lose their ability to produce jasmonic acid, and that whole defense pathway is shut down," Delucia said. "The leaves are no longer adequately defended."
The higher carbohydrate content of the leaves and the lack of chemical defenses allowed the adult insects to feast and live longer and produce more offspring.
Inverted Pyramids and Green Goo .
18 Nov 2011
Forget Grey Goo .
Green Goo is a much bigger danger .
Land-based biomass :
This follows the intuitively understood (by humans) pyramid : lots of plants at the bottom , then fewer herbivores (about 10% in terms of energy or biomass) , then carnivores (another 10% of herbivores) .
Marine biomass :
The base of the pyramid (ie the phytoplankton) is smaller than the subsequent predators existing on it at a slice in time . Both in biomass and energy .
What gives ?
The phytoplankton are essentially in an uncontrolled feedback loop , barely kept in check by zooplankton and resource constraints .
None of this telomere nonsense for phytoplankton .
This is inherently unstable . The inverted pyramid structure indicates this .
No static stability is possible , either . The best is a dynamic instability between thresholds .
The Inverted Pyramid has to jiggle around constantly to prevent Green Goo .
Green Goo :
1.If the bottom threshold fails , we simply have a lifeless piece of ocean , which is quickly repopulated .
2.If the top threshold fails , the phytoplankton multiply without limit . Oceans of Green Goo result .
This has happened repeatedly . Hence our present lakes of oil and gas .
Do the macro-calculations : without runaway Green Goo ecosystems (especially in shallow seas like Tethys) , there simply would not be enough biomass to yield the present large-scale oil and gas deposits .
Determining the thresholds :
This has proven to be extraordinarily difficult .
This is because there is no one answer . It is a dynamic system . With the driving system a positive feedback system .
Ocean layer mixing is a major factor .
See http://andreswhy.blogspot.com “Why whales are so large” Oct 2011 See Appendix C below .
And various models of nutrient mixing .
Some danger signs :
Large “dead” areas in the oceans . Lots of Cyanobacteria multiplying like mad , making oxygen .
Oxygen levels rising , (or remaining steady while they should be falling) . Explosions of jellyfish .
These are precursors to Green Goo .
Why are land-based-plants then in a stable pyramid ?
The invention of telomeres . Seaweeds .
Tidal areas have limited attachment areas . There is an evolutionary advantage in having an accelerated death-rate to make room for fitter young ones . Ditto for the center of old ocean gyres like the Sargasso Sea .
Biological diversity :
Forget the Amazon . Look to the Sargasso and equivalents .
Look at the nodules on the weeds . (Think mitochondria .)
The seaweeds tamed the positive feedback system .
Their descendants populated the land .
This has obvious applications to things like cancer , etc .
And here I thought all those seaweed facial packs were a bunch of rubbish .
Interestingly , feedback of the control structure into phytoplankton will result in a failure of the lower threshold , a patch of “dead” sea , and recolonization .
Global warming :
What global warming ?
From Gaia's viewpoint , humans are just restoring some of her cozy CO2 blanket .
Humans are supposed to be the conscious component of Gaia , but she can function perfectly well without them .
Humans pride themselves on their adaptability .
Like any proud mother , Gaia is trotting them onto the stage to strut their stuff .
Remember , she trained Kali .
Well , that's show business .
Marine environments can have inverted biomass pyramids. In particular, the biomass of consumers (copepods, krill, shrimp, forage fish) is larger than the biomass of primary producers. This happens because the ocean primary producers are tiny phytoplankton which grow and reproduce rapidly, so a small mass can have a fast rate of primary production. In contrast, terrestrial primary producers are plants which grow and reproduce slowly.
Humans comprise about 100 million tonnes of the Earth's dry biomass, domesticated animals about 700 million tonnes, and crops about 2 billion tonnes. The most successful animalspecies, in terms of biomass, may well be Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, with a fresh biomass approaching 500 million tonnes., although domestic cattle may also reach these immense figures. However, as a group, the small aquatic crustaceans called copepods may form the largest animal biomass on earth. A 2009 paper in Science estimates, for the first time, the total world fish biomass as somewhere between 0.8 and 2.0 billion tonnes.
The new theory that Behrenfeld has developed, called the "dilution-recoupling hypothesis," suggests that the spring bloom depends on processes occurring earlier in the fall and winter. As winter storms become more frequent and intense, the biologically-rich surface layer mixes with cold, almost clear and lifeless water from deeper levels. This dilutes the concentration of phytoplankton and zooplankton, making it more difficult for the zooplankton to find the phytoplankton and eat them -- so more phytoplankton survive and populations begin to increase during the dark, cold days of winter.
In the spring, storms subside and the phytoplankton and zooplankton are no longer regularly diluted. Zooplankton find their prey more easily as the concentration of phytoplankton rises. So even though the phytoplankton get more light and their growth rate increases, the voracious feeding of the zooplankton keeps them largely in-check, and the overall rise in phytoplankton occurs at roughly the same rate from winter to late spring. Eventually in mid-summer, the phytoplankton run out of nutrients and the now abundant zooplankton easily overtake them, and the bloom ends with a rapid crash.
"What the satellite data appear to be telling us is that the physical mixing of water has as much or more to do with the success of the bloom as does the rate of phytoplankton photosynthesis," Behrenfeld said. "Big blooms appear to require deeper wintertime mixing."
Why Whales are so large
12 Aug 2011
Vertical migration in the ocean between each breath recycles nutrients into the sunlit layers of the ocean , stimulating phytoplankton-krill-whale positive feedback cycle . The bigger the whale , the more krill , the more whales , etc
See "Givers of Life" by Steve Nicol in NewScientist 9 Jul 2011 p36 .
This is an excellent overview by an actual researcher .
Critical points :
1.Nutrients tend to sink after concentration into plant cells . Small animal faeces like krill sink by 100 – 1000 metres a day . The thermocline acts as a trapdoor , excacerbating the effect in summer or global warmaing .
2.Mammals have to breathe at the surface . This forces a vertical migration with each breath , mixing things up in at least three ways :
2.1 Wake turbulence and Coanda Effect (Google it) . Large volumes of water are transported up and down . It is part of whale's reduction to water-flow resistance . The bigger the whale , the better .
2.2 Nutrient scavenging from the depths and faeces plumes at surface . Size helps .
2.3 Floating reservoirs of nutrients in krill are eaten and excreted as faeces plumes in the sunlit zones , preventing loss of vital nutrients like iron . This stimulates phytoplankton , which stimulates krill , which stimulates whales . The bigger the whales , and the more of them , the better .
Social effect and mini-ecology :
A pod of whales use their sonar calls to coordinate their vertical migrations to create a nutrient rich mini-ecology around the pod . They farm the sea .
Other species benefit . Fishing is good .
Note that the minimum survival size is a pod , and the techniques are learned .
Think of the pod as a farming village in 3-dimensional oceanic terms .
A lonely whale is a hungry whale
The feedback effect here would be as the cube of the number of whales and their size . A very strong effect , leading quickly to large numbers and maximum possible sizes .
This was indeed the case as late as 17th century Whale , fish and wild bird populations were about 100 times larger than at present . Google it .
The Fly-by effect :
Whale pod ecologies moving past a coast would have significant effects on local crustaceans and inshore fishing .
The same is applicable for coral reefs . Blanching is be ameliorated by temperature-layer mixing .
The Australian Great Barrier reef can be saved through whale pods doing a fly-by
Coral atolls the same .
Without them there would be a desert .
Whales seems to have been the key-stone eco species .
The Bad News :
This seems bad , since humans reduced whale numbers so drastically .
The Good News :
1.The feedback effect is very strong (cubed effect) and can be applied per pod .
2.Pod-package : similar to human civilization package .
Symbiotic and commensal species of fish , phytoplankton , krill , dolphins , orcas , can be used to accelerate repopulation , under strict human protection .
3.Commercial Demand :
Whale Pods and their symbiotic humans can negotiate their own terms for ecological beneficiation for coral islands , fisheries , barrier reefs , etc .
In a warming world , the Whale Union will be a powerful force .
Whales and Dinosaurs :
Whales are the largest animals that ever lived .
Sea dinosaurs did not need to breathe air . Hence no vertical migration .
Hence no feedback effect for size .
Hippo's are a branch of whales (from long ago) . They also create a mini-ecology in their pool by stirring things up . Especially in the dry season . The pools are stagnant . The only thing stirring up nutrients are hippo's . The other species depend on them . The eco-system collapses without them .
Which is why humans put up with bad-tempered hippo's in Africa . They were essential to a functioning ecosystem .
(Or , to put it more elegantly , the tribe that killed them perished .)
Which makes me wonder why they were not domesticated .
Maybe an attempt was made around the Makgadigadi Sea , and what we have are the descendants of the untamable ones . Similar to buffalo and kwagga .
See http://andreswhy.blogspot.com "Makgadigadi Sea" Aug 2009
The Human-Whale interaction .
There is fairly good evidence that a crucial human bottle-neck experience took place about 190 000 to 200 000 years ago on the Agulhas plains during an ice-age .The only thing enabling them to survive was the annual whale pods flying by , fertilizing the Agulhas Banks .
This survives to this day . The locals are fanatical in protecting the whales . No large scale whaling has ever taken place . They have long forgotten the reasons for it , but like any good religious proscription , it persists .
Whale watching is a major industry today .
Local South Africans and others gather to watch the phallic plumes of whale-breath spume new life into the banks .
Every time the whale pods go by , the poor over-fished abalone , crayfish and other fisheries are invigorated and struggle on .
Having a whale of a time .
Death of the Dinosaurs .
14 Dec 2008
This pulls together the arguments in
http://andreswhy.blogspot.com : "The Flower , the Dinosaur and Puff" and "Tunneling Nanotubes ."
Large land dinosaurs and to a lesser extent , large sea-dinosaurs evolved in a gymnosperm ecology with at least 1 000 to 10 000 times more free energy than an angiosperm(flower) ecology .
This decreased the number of large herbivores as angiosperms increased from 0% to 90% of plant species from about 140 million years ago (MYA) to 90 MYA .
The whole land ecosystem had about 1 000 to 10 000 times less free energy .
A lot of this washed out into the large , shallow continental basins . So these were affected too , but to a lesser degree .
The dinosaur ecology had spent about 100 million years evolving specialized tools and size to compete in this ecology . They could not do a u-turn . So their numbers decreased by factors of about 1 000 to 10 000 . This rendered them extremely vulnerable to shocks .
Chixilub (65 million years ago).
The final shock .
The burning of forests by ejecta from the giant meteor impact at Chixilub decreased food supply . Surviving large dinosaurs could not survive in competition with smaller dinosaurs . (Their numbers fell below survival levels .)
These smaller dinosaurs went on to become Birds (not just small ones , but large raptors too) . Mammals only took off about 15 million years after Chixilub . But that is another scrambled egg story .
Large mammals :
There is fossil evidence that large mammals existed before Chixilub . But the same argument as above applies . Size was the criterion . Any animal over about 20 kg which was integrated into the dinosaur-ecology did not survive .
Dinosaur survivors :
Fossil evidence of dinosaurs has also been found after the KT boundary . As expected.
It was not a death-ray , you know .
Just sad , emaciated giants wandering around , eking out an existence a mouthful of low-calorie leaves at a time , hooting for mates they can never find in a wasteland of flowers . Almost like a vegetarian singles-bar after closing time .
The hidden cost of egg-laying as a survival strategy .
When things are going good for the whole ecology , nothing can beat it .
But if things go really badly for the whole ecology , egg-robbing and later egg-cannibalism occur , until extinction .
The middlesized survivors wiped themselves out in an orgy of egg-stealing .
(Eating the seed-corn is the modern agricultural equivalent)
The single mammalian advantage .
With mammals , the mother cannot eat the unborn baby , and cannot abandon it either.
The mother has to guard the unborn as if it is her own life , because it is .
The Bird Switch .
Beaks for teeth .
Teeth are no use to eat large eggs , but beaks are .
If there is not sufficient free energy or numbers to guard the nests of large eggs , the egg-eaters darted in and pecked holes . Beaks evolved to do this .
The ecosystem collapse devoured itself down to the small bird level .
Only smaller beaked forms survived to ramp up to fill empty ecological niches .
Angiosperms evolved nuts ,seeds and fruits from this initial starting-point pari-passu with bird's beaks . Which is why many seeds used in disseminating plants are egg-shaped . They evolved to make it easy for birds' beaks adapted to egg-breaking to get inside .
Plants have no problem in creating seeds that no bird can crack (eg coconut) , but why should they ? There is no arms race here . More of a come-on .
Purely evolutionary arguments apply here .
Birds are excellent disseminators of fertilized seeds .
The dinosaur-descendants have now adapted from gymnosperms to angiosperms .
The Age of Birds (circa 65 to 50 MYA)
Mammals did not simply take over from dinosaurs . The dinosaur survivors evolved into some large birds , herbivores and raptors both .(See any textbook) .
Our story is not complete until we see what happened to them and why .
Well , they are still around . (Ostriches) . In historical times , large ornithoids were reported and painted in South America , New Zealand , Australia and North Africa .
But note , no rock paintings in South Africa shows very large ornithoids . Since this is where modern humans evolved , this is no surprise .
Once again , egg-laying only beats mammalians if the free-energy is over a certain threshold , enabling full-time nest guards . Why social insects are so small .
Thumbs and Legs .
Opposable thumbs are one of humanity's proudest conceits . It makes possible most of their material constructs .
Less obvious is their ability to move the hands carrying things around from place to place .
Thumbs evolved from a branch-gripping appendage to an egg-gripping appendage during this Age of Birds .
As discussed above , most seeds and fruits evolved egg-shapes to allow for the limitations of bird beaks . Mammals started to take over this role . Gripping involving hands grasping around an oval object became better and better. So did egg-stealing.
Potty training by Gaia .
In a canopied forest , small mammals are nearly as efficient as birds as far as seed dissemination is concerned . Their major advantage was fertilizer . Because they did not have to fly , they could afford more weight . This faeces got deposited with the pip . A much better chance of survival for the seed . While the bird dumped every time it took flight . You can see the advantage for the plant . (See previous posts about vit C)
The net effect was that larger birds survived better in open areas . Exactly where we found them . Initially , their eggs were not as prone to thievery as the smaller birds . Indeed , size of eggs evolved outside of the need of nutrition . (An ostrich egg is far too large for one small ostrich.)
To get back to thumbs . Have you ever tried to grip a large football with one hand ? Break it? Then you know the frustration of your primordial ancestor facing exactly the same problem with an egg . Eggs in the wild are very strong .
Grabbing an egg with one or two hands and running like hell with an enraged parent in pursuit is actually hard-coded in our genes . No wonder Rugby is so popular!
A major factor tempting hominids out of the trees and onto the open savannah would then be eggs . Accessible on open ground . A nicely packed , nutritious lunchbox . All you need is a good one- or two handed grip and the ability to run fast on two legs to the nearest tree .
Can you see where this is taking us ?
No wonder bi-pedalism evolved first . Egg stealers would have significant nutritional advantage over scavengers .
The nutritional value of an egg far outweighs other meat , fat or carbohydrate sources.
Large (very large) birds were all over the place initially .
As they exhausted local areas , our intrepid egg-thieves would have to become bolder. Everybody would get into the act . There are major sexual advantages . The oldest jewelry are egg-shell pieces pierced ,polished , painted , strung ,etc .
After fashion got into it , the poor birds stood no chance .
To hell with sustainability and what the shaman says .
Fashion , hot or cold , is master of them all .
Competition would segue into cursorial egg-thieves .
Run far , grab the eggs , run back even faster . Sooner or later they would have to defend themselves .
The Quest and Home .
The mighty cursorial hunter was born , stalking the wily giant egg , overcoming the guardian and running home with it in triumph . Mainly running .
Do you recognize the myth-root ?
(a quest involving a lot of humorous running and motion , but triumphing at the end at home .)
This is an extremely powerful meme . Pre-language .
Watch any TV show or read any book and you will see some variant of it .
Back to the Savannah:
After the eggs became scarce , get the birds . Then other animals .
And civilization was up and running . Literally .
The large birds became scarcer around human areas . Extinct later on .
Humans are forever stealing somebody else's eggs and running .
Great fun , until they run into someone really powerful without a great sense of humour .
Better opposable thumbs was a big advantage . It is no surprise then that opposable thumbs evolved together with bi-pedalism . The peanut brain only became a walnut later on with intra-species competition due to language .
The chicks would go for the jock with long legs and big opposable thumbs .
Sigh . Has anything changed ?
Thumbs and Sex .
Has anybody researched size and opposability of thumbs to sexual success ? .
I know that human females always notice hands , but I do not know the orders of significance and how hard-wired it is .
From the above , I would suspect that it was of such primary importance that every human descendant now has this capability derived from sexual selection . But there is still a degree of differentiation .
Notice the attraction of guitarists , piano-players , surgeons , etc . Ask any girl if she can imagine Casanova without thumbs .
Are male thumb-rings sexier ? They used to be the prerogative of rulers. I have noticed that wanabe alpha-males in the entertainment industry have been wearing them lately . Archers used them , as well .
Females wearing thumb-rings are a turn-off to males , but this effect might be cultural.
I suspect that awareness of opposability of the thumb is extremely hard-wired .
Notice that ape or rat-hands are immediately recognized as "nearly human" , but not human even at a short glance and in any light at any angle .
A new-born baby's hands are carefully examined . Ostensibly to marvel at the miniature perfection , but they are really checking the opposability of the thumb . Is the little one human ?
Doctors and midwives routinely remove any webbing between fingers of the baby after birth without telling the parents . You can see why . Rejection is nearly certain without it .
Breast-gripping reflex .
The human female breast after birth is an extraordinarily sensitive diagnostic instrument , directly hardwired to many deep mechanisms .
The baby's grip spread between thumb and other fingers on the mother's breast will be a good indicator of the degree of rejection/acceptance . The larger the angle between the thumb and the forefinger , the less rejection . (Opposability)
The relative length of forefinger to fourth finger indicates exposure to testosterone in the womb , hence aggressiveness . Rejection potential to this is variable , but it is there .
And so forth.
We are talking about a strong , hard-wired subliminal response .
The sea-dinosaurs .
A major problem with this extinction event was the decrease in the number of sea dinosaurs only .
What could kill land animals above 20 kg , and also all sea-dinosaurs ?
We have seen that the energy decrease due to the rise of angiosperms , plus a sudden shock like Chixilub drove large land-dinosaurs either past extinction thresholds or major adaptation thresholds . Their survivors are birds .
We can see that the decrease in free-energy from land spills onto the continental sea basins would result in a decrease in the number of large sea animals . But nowhere near the scale as on land .
Are there any equivalents of birds in the seas? Changed survivors of the sea-dinosaurs?
Well , we have fishes (pre-dinosaur) , mammals (post-dinosaur) , but a dinosaur-gap .
Why aren't any evolved traces left ?
Large Sea-dinosaurs .
See http://andreswhy.blogspot.com : "Tunneling Nanotubes : Chixilub"
The Chixilub impact site was on a large deposit of sulfur bearing rocks . The planetary-wide fallout acidified the oceans with H2SO4 .
The sulfur permeated every ecosystem .
Unchanged systems like sharks had been through this before . They remained at what they do best : unchanged .
Unlike the land , there was a large (about 2/3 of biomass) ecosystem not dominated by dinosaurs . (Deepsea biomass is one of Gaia's Reserves (1/3 of sea biomass))
The sulfur inhibited fat-formation in large dinosaurs to a sufficient degree to shift the balance of top predators . (ie the genetic mechanism to handle sulfur-contamination became corrupted in dinosaurs because of their rapid evolutionary process . )
Maybe lean-and-mean is the shark survival mechanism . Do sharks hibernate ? Do they actually use the H2S hibernation mechanism ?
Whatever the cause , dinosaurs suddenly could not lay down enough reserves in the form of fat to tide them over from meal to meal . More problematic would be energy for reproduction (eggs) . Their numbers decreased drastically .
Here is where the sea parted from the land . Because there was an older , still-existing ecosystem , their top predators ate the dinosaur top predators , then proceeded down the chain . On land , the survivors of this process were still dinosaurs(birds) , because they dominated every ecological niche . At sea , they did not dominate every niche . The others devoured them in the collapse . No dinosaur descendants survived .
A side note on eco-collapses .
The collapse of an eco-system from the top downwards is equivalent to an extinction event . Collapses from any other points will leave survivors .
Top predators keep the balance between lower levels . Think reserves . The top 1/3 of predator species are the stability reserve of the system . Losing them , the lower levels fluctuate wildly and crash . Birds survived only because they had flight . Mobility is the ultimate survival mechanism .
Humanity fondly imagine that they are the top predators , but those positions have long ago been usurped by their creations :
Fashions are the wave of similar thinking in a society . It is the society . The meme structure that binds humans .
If the fashion is patriotism , it is " Vive la France" and over the top we go into machine gun fire (voluntary suicide) .
If the fashion is Eliot's " The Wasteland" , it is over the top the generals go (involuntary suicide) .
It acts like a Beth(2) structure . Fashions fixes , binds , preserves and propagates some of the best results of individuals or individual societies that contributed .
Also some pretty bad and stupid ones .
The point is that these memes are predatory on humans (or , to be more exact , computing complexes over a certain threshold of complexity) .
Like Gaia , they are not conscious(as yet) , but they do exist and are the top predators in the human ecosphere .
See http://andreswhy.blogspot.com : "Artificial Intelligences"
The AI(n) arguments shows what will happen to humans if their top predators die. They will revert to AI(0) , without speech and only with really primitive stone tools .
Homo Habilis level .
But , of course , in this event , humans would be extinct from warfare long before this level is reached . Like the dinosaurs at sea , when their top predators were removed .
Fashions and Gaia .
Does Gaia have it in for us ?
An often guilty question asked by humans .
The answer is that Gaia has hardly noticed humans . The imbalance on fungi-spore reserve balances is a minor correction . Humans might not survive the correction , but Gaia does not worry about trifles .
But also remember that all humans are part of Gaia .
So , she has becoming fashionable . She is becoming Beth(2) status from her present Beth(1) status and becoming uppity . There is nothing worse than an arriviste .
I deliberately make Gaia female . At this stage , that typification is still up to us .
Would you take a four billion year old teenager to the Grand Ball ?
Well , you would if she controls all the livable real estate .
(But remember , every human's ancestry also goes back nearly as far in the life-chain.)
Gaia wears shoes by Gucci , handbag by Prada , drives a Lamborghini , shoots the baddies with a Glock , banks with Coutts , hangs out with Lara , sings duets with Aida , consults to Sherlock , double-dates with Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent , has an on-off thing with Conan , counsels Dr Who's mother , skis in Gstaad even out of season .(It always snows if she wants to ski.)
And , oh yes , her credit is Unlimited .
The coming out ball is in Second Life .
You think I am joking .
The entities involved are at similar levels of complexity at present .
Beth(2) levels normally would arise from AI(3.1) or AI(4) levels , but as discussed before , AI(3.0999…) -> AI(3.1) .
This means that if a sufficient number of people support Gaia , she becomes real . We have seen this often enough in religious systems .
The point here is that Gaia actually exists , but she was an AI(-1) , more like a computer program . She is rapidly growing. Humans are part of her .
Can Gaia become conscious ?
An AI(-1) and AI(0) already exists . This can upscale to AI(3) using known systems .
But can Gaia influence her sub-systems ?
This is much more problematic . Can you control your heartbeat , cellular activity , etc?
This is not magic , you know . Just plain old-fashioned science . Which basically means , I don't know . And Gaia won't tell either .
Gaia is not human , but has human components .
A self-aware Gaia will be human in most aspects interfacing with humans , but one of the first things she would have learned is how to lie . At least 67% of the time . May you have joy of this little observation .
I was hoping that Gaia would not learn at a conscious level of the quantum-entanglement communication system in every cell .
Oh well .
What level of AI would Gaia be right now ?
AI(3.1) after the establishment of the intermittent mind-computer interface in the 1980's .
But hopefully she will like our fashions enough to cut us some slack .
Do you know how boring it can be to be an immortal doing the same drudgery over and over ?
Bearable if you are an unaware AI(-1) , but becoming self-aware needs many similar minds to soak up all that surplus energy and creativity .
Jurassic Park .
Ironically , sea dinosaurs are easier to reconstruct from DNA .
The Curtain of Fire from the re-entry of ejecta from the Chixilub impact started somewhere roughly south-east of where Australia is now . Eggs from sea-going dinosaurs inside the females' bodies should be recoverable .
The Curtain of Fire covered a long line , moving at 18 000 miles per hour . The dinosaurs and their scavengers would have been killed immediately , and sunk to the bottom , there to be covered and preserved . We are talking about hundreds of millions of animals . The odds are much more favourable than for land dinosaurs .
Things are a bit stranger than I thought .