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What is fire? That may seem too-elementary a question, but understanding what it is and where it came from is vitally important for understanding the human journey. The first fires were the quick release of stored sunlight energy that life forms, plants in that instance, had used to build themselves as they made their “decisions,” and it was from vegetation that recently died and was dry enough to burn. The energy was released from burning so fast that it became far hotter (because the molecules were violently "pushed" by the reaction that also released photons) than the biological process of making animals warm-blooded. Hot enough in fact that the released photons' (energetic enough) so that human eyes could see them, in a phenomenon called flames. Flames are visible side-effects of that intense energy release. The rapid movement of the molecules as they rocketed due to that great release of energy is the motion that powers the industrial age. Those rocketing molecules move pistons in automobile engines and , and are behind the damaging explosions of bombs and the propulsive explosions of rockets. For more than one million years, all human fires were made by burning vegetation, and wood in particular. What was fire doing? Energy stored by plants, trees in particular, was violently released by controlled fires for human-serving purposes of warmth, light, food preparation (to obtain more energy from food) and protection from predation, and it also became the heart of social gatherings. Humans have stared into fires for a million years or more.
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In a striking similarity to the of evolutionary innovations, many human traits are vestiges of our history but have yet to disappear, but various social managers have used them to exploit the masses. For instance, the has a and developed because those were the most energy-rich foods that existed. But the incredibly high sugar and fat content of processed food vended by Western agribusiness companies plays to those biological proclivities in the name of profit. Diets based on such foods are disastrous for human health, and industrialized peoples, led by the USA, are the . Similarly, in-group "loyalty" (to fight the out-group) is a that arose to ensure survival. Ever since the , a goal of social managers has been forming that in-group cohesion to battle the out-group. There is not much sentient about it. As the and have made clear, people can be arbitrarily split along almost any lines and form an in-group and out-group, and the out-group will then be treated terribly. Darwin's "from the war of nature" comes "higher animals" conclusion in his is mirrored in the work of Marx and Hitler, in that they believed that human "progress" was produced by one social group violently prevailing over another. Hitler avidly read Marx, and may be how he received his "revolutionary" ideas.
Because of the stupendous energy demands of flight, birds not only have the superior air sac system for breathing, but their , the cell’s energy-generation centers, are far more efficient than mammalian mitochondria. Parrots in captivity can , scientists have noted an , and scientists may discover that wild albatrosses live to be 100 or more, when their tagging programs get that old. The may explain bird longevity, as the efficient mitochondria of birds . The theory is controversial and will be for many years, but I think that an engine analogy can help. A bird is a piece of high-performance biological technology, and when operating at peak output it puts all land-bound animals to shame. But a bird’s metabolism is usually in its slack state, only maximized during flight. Simply put, a bird has a great energy capacity that is rarely used to its fullest. It is like a high-performance engine that rarely runs near its . Such engines will last far longer than those regularly running near redline. High-performance technology that usually “loafs” in its slack state and is rarely taxed is expensive and long-lasting. The increased investment in superior technology allows for high performance and long life. High-quality technology is more economical in the long run, if the initial investment can be afforded.
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consist of body plans, which scientists have used to classify all life forms, and all significant animal phyla had appeared by the Cambrian Period’s end. The Cambrian Explosion has been difficult to explain and there is still great controversy and many unanswered questions, and it has also been difficult to explain why significant change stopped the explosion. Once the basic body plans appeared and biomes were filled, new plans never appeared again. Why did all fundamental change stop? The emerging view is the same for why complex life with and never changed since then. Not only could innovation confer great benefits, but , further travel along the developmental path made it continually less feasible to backtrack, start over, and take another path, or choose a fundamentally different path. The history of life’s choices was reflected in organisms in several ways, and the source of that inertia began to be understood when biology and chemistry at the cellular and subcellular levels were investigated, particularly after DNA was sequenced and studied. The fact that have not significantly changed in several hundred million years points to the issue. Hox genes have not changed because they control key developmental steps in embryonic development. Not only do Hox genes work, there are no practical ways to significantly change them, as they lay the animal’s structural foundation. Hox genes are called regulatory genes, and the nature of seems to be why animals have not fundamentally changed since the Cambrian Explosion.
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Ornithischians started slowly and began to become common in the late Jurassic, just when the greatest biological innovation in the past 300 million years began: the appearance of , which first bloomed about 160 mya. Until that time, plant survival strategies included how to avoid being eaten by animals, whether it was bark, height, poisonous foliage, etc. Flowering plants adopted a different strategy by laying out a banquet for animals. The primary benefit for plants was , as well as attracting animals that did not seek to eat the plants and even ended up protecting them. The advantage for animals was an easily acquired and tasty meal. It was the greatest direct symbiosis between plants and animals ever, other than plants providing the oxygen that animals breathe, which is inadvertent. The two primary aspirations that seed plants achieve for successful reproduction are becoming fertilized via pollination and placing seeds where they can become viable offspring (and feces fertilizer could only help). Flowering plants, also called angiosperms, did not invent animal assistance from whole cloth. Some Jurassic insects have been found in association with (conifer) cones, and were probably doing the work that the wind previously performed. Like the , attracting animals to plants, to eat the pollen and nectar, was like a reproductive enzyme: animals carried the key to the lock to initiate reproduction. Other animals ate the fruit and thereby spread the seeds. That relationship did not become significant until the mid-Cretaceous. Angiosperms mature faster and produce more seeds than gymnosperms do. By the Cretaceous’s end, angiosperms dominated tropical biomes where ferns and cycads used to thrive, and they pushed conifers to the high latitudes, just as they have today. That tropical dominance is probably related to the insect population, which prefers warm climates. Angiosperms became Earth’s dominant plants after the and comprise more than 90% of plant species today.