When looking at the ocean from a boat or the shore, it is remarkably easy to think that one is viewing a lifeless desert. All you can see is a blank, empty expanse of water with no visible life, excluding the occasional seagull. If you stick your head underwater, all you see is murky water, sand, and rocks. But if you were to declare that the ocean is empty, you would be completely wrong.
There is a spectacular amount of life in the ocean and it exists everywhere. From the beach, to the shallow water off-shore, to the open ocean, and even the deep sea floor, bountiful amounts of life exists in all of these environments. However, because we humans do not live or spend considerable amounts of time in the ocean, we have a misinformed perspective about how much ocean life exists. Simply put, our eyes do a bad job at informing us of what exists underwater.
The video below provides an interesting example of how scientists locate and study life underwater, specifically in the mesopelagic zone which is nearly devoid of light. What strikes me as remarkable are the miles-long clouds of sea life that can be seen with sonar. If you were on a boat at the surface, you would see absolutely nothing. But hundreds of feet below exist clouds of marine life containing hundreds of thousands of organisms.
Topping off this incredible example of natural wonder is the fact that these clouds of organisms are intelligent and highly specialized. They aren’t just dumb clouds of animals floating about randomly. Instead, the organisms that live in the mesopelagic are highly organized and behave in specific manners. All of these ideas make my brain very excited.
When dealing with time on the scale of species evolution, the numbers are so large that the brain finds them incomprehensible. Saying that a certain species came into existence X million of years ago or that humans split from a certain line of evolution Y hundred thousand years back means very little on its own. Our minds do not have surrounding points of information to give us a frame of reference.
Combing over the evolution of species in a visual manner helps provide the brain with a better understanding of time. The following video goes into detail on when homo sapiens split from chimpanzees and the subsequent evolutionary steps that led to the species we are today.
While remarkable in many regards, the point that strikes me from this video is the frenetic pace with which homo sapiens take over the entire planet. Our species suddenly appears on the scene and within an instant we have wiped out the other competing species and colonized every landmass on Earth. Humans have existed for a mere blip in time, yet to most of us it feels like humans have existed forever. This view is especially true if you talk to religious people.
If more people had an accurate understanding of how much humans have reshaped the planet we live on in the minuscule amount of time we’ve existed, I believe people would behave much differently.