Many types of insects exist in this world. The approximation being of around 900 thousand species of insects. But can you believe that one of them…..were giants once?
The etymology (origin of word) ‘Arthropod’ comes from the Greek words meaning “joint” and “foot”. These insects elongated to the phylum of Euarthropoda. Okay,enough ofthe scientific explanations. Let’s get to our point. What makes these animals different. Well, these insects breathe through something called the spiracles. Spiracles are holes on the sides of the insects. From the inside,these holes are connected to the trachea holes which make the respiration process of every cell in the organism possible. Arthropods have this kind of breathing system or maybe similar. Alright ,till now we got no problems. But here’s when geology steps out in the frame of reference.
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( Do observe closely to find the spiracles)
We humans have divided the history into small portions to make it easier and better to understand the concepts. One of the geological period,which was about 298 million years to somewhere around è58 million years. During this time,the atmosphere of our Earth was completely different from that of today.
But….why was it any different at all? Because ,it was a time when microbes were still evolving. The trees looked completely different. Where,the oxygen levels in the atmosphere was around thirty five percent. Yes,it was the Carboniferous Period.
Geologists say that this was the period when a lot of coal beds were formed i.e the fossil fuels. Now, why would have this happened? This was because,the microbes at that time did not have the specific enzymes in them to decompose the dead remains. So they stayed and with time,got buried under the layers and layers of soil over them. Now by layers and layers of soil you must’ve understood that this would’ve taken some millions of years. Why? Because,only to produce a single layer of soil,it takes roughly around a thousand years. Layers and layers of soil till they finally were converted into fossil fuels can just be left to our imagination.
Photo by Alejandro Quintanar from Pexels
Now ,the Carboniferous period has a lot of study to it. In fact scientists out there are probably still exploring and discovering new factors and so much more. But we are not particularly that domain of this period,though the period was very interesting and fascinating. We are interested in the the insects of those times.
Were insects all magnanimous and large in that period of time. I hate to ruin it for you,but it was not so. The thing was,it is said the oxygen levels were very large in that period. Why so? Because the planet’s lands were literally green! Set aside the deserts of course. Or were they?
This caused a lot of production of oxygen in the atmosphere. Remember-These are all estimations which were discovered through various proofs collected,but the truth still remains a mystery to us!
So when we said about Arthropods,these insects were totally different from what they look like today. This is because nature has always had a crucial law,a law of adaptation. Right? So naturally they were different in 35% oxygen (then) compared to the 21% oxygen(now). As the levels were higher,the respiration ability probably increased as well. The trachea holes became bigger, eventually making the organism bigger as well. This made them have larger body parts and organs. For example,a specific type of dragonfly,actually grew wings of around 40 cm! Now,this might look like a small amount to you but it was pretty unusual and disturbing,that the insects which were around the length of our palm were once actually that to our arms!
But suppose, what will happen if oxygen levels get increased to 35% today? Do you know how combustion happens? Yes, basically ‘the burning of oxygen’. For first consequences,forest fires will drastically increase. How do they happen? When two branches rub against a tree,they create friction. Friction is the force which acts opposite to which force we apply. This friction makes fire. This is how campers light a fire through stones. Now that that the Oxygen levels are 35%, even the slightest rub will light a fire and the fire will spread very rapidly through the entire forest due to the same reason. Can you think of any other consequences? If the atmosphere did change into 35% in our future,will we evolve or adapt to the conditions too? List down your possible theories down below
Fact -Why is it that the spider legs never stick to the spider’s legs? This is because the spider legs have tiny hairs on them. Even if the hairs stick to the webs,the spider can walk further. Also,not every web is sticky. The webs are altered with non sticky webs in which the spider walks on.
Bonus fact- Like liquid nitrogen,liquid oxygen also does exist! It’s just that the melting point of it is so low that it rarely occurs naturally.