Tag Archives: Cosmos

Cosmic Calendar: Oh the Humanity!

December 31st, at 10:30 pm, on the Cosmic Calendar:  Modern humans, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, have finally arrived!  Our entire history, both written and archaeological, is only one and a half hours on the cosmic calendar.

December 31st, at 11:46 pm, on the Cosmic Calendar:  Fire is discovered.  What we did for the 2 and a quarter million years before we had fire I cannot imagine.  Carpaccio and sashimi every day?  They must have had guts of steel.  These were not neanderthals — these were home sapiens exactly like you and me in every way… except perhaps dental hygiene.

11:59 pm:

December 31st, at 11:59:20 pm, on the Cosmic Calendar:  The domestication of plants and animals begins.  20,000 years ago.

December 31st, at 11:59:35 pm, on the Cosmic Calendar:  Settled agricultural communities become the first cities, during the neolithic revolution.

December 31st, at 11:59:50 pm, on the Cosmic Calendar:  Recorded history beginsMohenjo-daro, ancient Sumer and Egypt.  Everyone you have ever heard of, from Sargon of Akkad, Tutankhamun, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, Queen Elizabeth, Abraham Lincoln, to Carl Sagan and you and me — lived in the equivalent of 10 seconds out of a year.

When the entire history of the universe is compressed into one calendar year, one second is 500 years, one minute is 30,000 years, and one day is 43 million years (43,200,000).  If this cosmic calendar were the size of a football field, all of human history would be a handful of dirt you could scoop up.

An hour and a half we’ve been here, and we haven’t done anything of significance until the last 40 seconds of the cosmic year.  Frankly we’ve lived like animals for the majority of our time here.  In the last 5000 to 8000 years, we’ve really only just started!  🙂  Look out universe!

Note the comparison of skulls — not just the hottie… we’ve become? Don’t know about you, but I’m not that hot.  Obviously.  You can tell from my avatar I look more like that guy in the middle.

You may remember Cosmos, the 1980 PBS series by Carl Sagan. Maybe you also recall Sagan’s “Cosmic Calendar” from the series, where in order to put the immensely vast history of the universe into a comprehensible scale, he mapped it onto a calendar year. In other words, if the entire history of the universe were one year, with the big bang in the first second of midnight on January first, and the present day on the last second of December 31st, New Year’s Eve. A project of mine this year has been to note the major events in the Cosmic Calendar, on the real calendar, on this blog!

And Happy New Year!

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Cosmic Calendar: Australopithecus

December 31st, at 9:36 pm, on the Cosmic Calendar:  Australopithecus appears, one of the most well-known of our pre-human ancestors.  You’ve probably heard of Lucy — she was an Australopithecus afarensis and metaphorical mother to us all, that lived between two and four million years ago.

Lucy, Australopithecus afarensis celebrity

Here we are in the final hours of the cosmic year, and still no human beings yet.  And that is how mind blowingly long the 13.75 billion year history of the universe is!

You may remember Cosmos, the 1980 PBS series by Carl Sagan. Maybe you also recall Sagan’s “Cosmic Calendar” from the series, where in order to put the immensely vast history of the universe into a comprehensible scale, he mapped it onto a calendar year. In other words, if the entire history of the universe were one year, with the big bang in the first second of midnight on January first, and the present day on the last second of December 31st, New Year’s Eve. A project of mine this year has been to note the major events in the Cosmic Calendar, on the real calendar, on this blog!

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Cosmic Calendar: The first flowers and the end of the dinosaurs

December 28th on the Cosmic Calendar:  The first flowers appear, and the meteor that wipes out the dinosaurs hits in the Gulf of Mexico just off the Yucatan causing the KT event.

Four days left in the Cosmic Year — just four days — and only now do we see flowers.  Plants had been living on land for 300 million years before any of them flowered.  I’d kind of always assumed that flowers had been around pretty much as long as plants had been on land, but this is not the case.  That is how mind blowingly long the 13.75 billion year history of the universe is.

So if you ever see a dinosaur movie with flowers in the background, I’d say you’re 95% safe calling bullshit on it.

Archaefructus liaoningensis, the earliest known flowering plant. This is as floral and flowery as my blog is likely to ever get.

Say goodbye to T-Rex and Diplodicus

You may remember Cosmos, the 1980 PBS series by Carl Sagan. Maybe you also recall Sagan’s “Cosmic Calendar” from the series, where in order to put the immensely vast history of the universe into a comprehensible scale, he mapped it onto a calendar year. In other words, if the entire history of the universe were one year, with the big bang in the first second of midnight on January first, and the present day on the last second of December 31st, New Year’s Eve. A project of mine this year has been to note the major events in the Cosmic Calendar, on the real calendar, on this blog!

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Cosmic Calendar: Birds!

December 27th on the Cosmic Calendar:  The first birds!  Birds evolved from dinosaurs in the Cretaceous.  Birds and crocodiles are the only living clades of Archosauria, and the two main extinct clades of Archosauria are the dinosaurs and pterosaurs.  Crocodiles predate the dinosaurs, but birds evolved from Theropod dinosaurs.  Tyrannosaurus Rex was a theropod.  Whenever I look at birds — geese, ducks, robins — and think these thoughts, I think “Oh how the mighty have fallen!”  Still, it’s fun to look at birds and realize that they are dinosaurs.  It’s also fun to think of eating dinosaur when having chicken or turkey.  It’s the simple things in life, ya know?  🙂

Archaeopteryx, the first bird

Archaeopteryx would like some lemon and tartar sauce with his fish

Archaeopteryx

Microraptor was another early bird

The first birds were… about the size of a bird.

You may remember Cosmos, the 1980 PBS series by Carl Sagan. Maybe you also recall Sagan’s “Cosmic Calendar” from the series, where in order to put the immensely vast history of the universe into a comprehensible scale, he mapped it onto a calendar year. In other words, if the entire history of the universe were one year, with the big bang in the first second of midnight on January first, and the present day on the last second of December 31st, New Year’s Eve. A project of mine this year has been to note the major events in the Cosmic Calendar, on the real calendar, on this blog!

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Cosmic Calendar: Mammals!

December 26th on the Cosmic Calendar:  Actual hairy, lactating, bug-eating mammals!  Not Synapsids anymore!  The earliest mammals lived in the Jurassic and Cretaceous, yes, in the shadow of dinosaurs.  The first group of no-doubt-about-it mammals were the Triconodonts (again, the earliest currently known).

Jeholodens jenkinsi, a triconodont mammal that lived about 120 to 140 million years ago

Not all of the tricodonts were small though.  Repenomamus was a meter long — about the size of a beaver!  Big enough to eat small dinosaurs!

Mmmm! Dinosaur tastes like chicken!

You may remember Cosmos, the 1980 PBS series by Carl Sagan. Maybe you also recall Sagan’s “Cosmic Calendar” from the series, where in order to put the immensely vast history of the universe into a comprehensible scale, he mapped it onto a calendar year. In other words, if the entire history of the universe were one year, with the big bang in the first second of midnight on January first, and the present day on the last second of December 31st, New Year’s Eve. A project of mine this year has been to note the major events in the Cosmic Calendar, on the real calendar, on this blog!

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Cosmic Calendar: Dinosaurs!

December 24th on the Cosmic Calendar:  Dinosaurs rule the Earth!  Finally!  Having scaled the entire 13.75 billion year history of the universe down to one year, the dinosaurs — who we usually think of as having lived in the inconcievably distant past — yes, they only show up in the last week of the cosmic year.  That is how long the 13.75 billion year history of the universe is.  251 million years is only one week on the cosmic calendar.

Tyrannosaurus Rex

Tyrannosaurus Rex

Diplodicus

Triceratops

Stegosaurus

So there are the classic four dinosaurs — Tyrannosaurus Rex, Diplodicus, Triceratops, and Stegosaurus.  But since this is an art blog, even though it’s been hijacked by the history of the universe for the last several posts, and for the next several too, I’ll close with my favorite dinosaur painting.  Animal Plumbing by Brian Filipowich.  At least I always thought the animal plumbed here was a Tyrannosaurus…  🙂

Animal plumbing, by Brian Filipowich

You may remember Cosmos, the 1980 PBS series by Carl Sagan. Maybe you also recall Sagan’s “Cosmic Calendar” from the series, where in order to put the immensely vast history of the universe into a comprehensible scale, he mapped it onto a calendar year. In other words, if the entire history of the universe were one year, with the big bang in the first second of midnight on January first, and the present day on the last second of December 31st, New Year’s Eve. A project of mine this year has been to note the major events in the Cosmic Calendar, on the real calendar, on this blog!

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Cosmic Calendar: The first reptiles and the first trees

December 23rd on the Cosmic Calendar: The first reptiles and trees, sort of.

In researching the first trees of the carboniferious period, I discovered new information about trees that grew as early as the devonian period.  Which means ideally I’d have posted about the first trees 2 days ago, on December 21st.  Oh well.  Figuring out exactly when these firsts were is a moving target as new discoveries are continually made.

The currently earliest known trees were Wattieza in the middle devonian period — December 21st on the Cosmic Calendar.    They’re related to modern ferns and reproduced with spores instead of the yet-to-evolve seeds.

Wattieza

Wattieza

Ok, back to the carboniferous and the first reptiles!  The earliest known reptile is Hylonomus.  Hylonomus was an 8 inch (20 cm) long lizard with tiny teeth, the better to eat bugs with.  The main differences between reptiles and the amphibians they evolved from are scales and egg shells.  Generally speaking even today amphibians cannot stray too far from the water’s edge because their skin dries out so quickly.   The development of scales which keep moisture in solved this problem and let reptiles roam farther to hunt.  Likewise egg shells did the same for their eggs.  Amphibians need to lay their eggs in water.  Like fish eggs they do not have shells, and would dry out long before hatching if left on land.  Egg shells solved this problem, again by holding in moisture.  As reptiles vertebrates were finally freed to really conquer the land!

Hylonomus

Hylonomus

By the Permian period our ancestors like Hylonomus had evolved into the mammal-like reptiles, the Synapsids and Therapsids.

Dimetrodon, everyone’s favorite synapsid!

These are not dinosaurs.  Dinosaurs are yet to come from a separate line of reptiles.  These are our ancestors, dinosaurs are not.  Synapsids have jaws and teeth like mammals.  Canine teeth, molars, and incisors — just like us.  Synapsids dominated the Permian, enjoying their moment in the sun before being overshadowed by the dinosaurs.  By then synapsids will have evolved fur and shrank to the mouse-like mammals we usually think of hiding in the shadows from dinosaurs.  But Dimetrodon here was 5 to 10 feet (2-3 meters) long and is more like modern mammals than modern reptiles.  In the same sense that birds can be considered dinosaurs, mammals, including ourselves, can be considered synapsids.

Therapsids are another group of synapsids from later in the Permian.  Therapsids are even more like mammals:

Biarmosuchus, a Therapsid. Nice doggie!

Therapsid Inostrancevia in the middle, flanked for scale by a person and smilodon, the famed “saber-tooth tiger”

Oligokyphus, a therapsid cynodont

You may remember Cosmos, the 1980 PBS series by Carl Sagan. Maybe you also recall Sagan’s “Cosmic Calendar” from the series, where in order to put the immensely vast history of the universe into a comprehensible scale, he mapped it onto a calendar year. In other words, if the entire history of the universe were one year, with the big bang in the first second of midnight on January first, and the present day on the last second of December 31st, New Year’s Eve. A project of mine this year has been to note the major events in the Cosmic Calendar, on the real calendar, on this blog!

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