Julie Douglas

Blow the Mind: Swim in the Ordovician Waters

Trilobite necklace from Lucye Lamb Designs. Just one of the creatures teeming in the Ordovician waters.

Join Robert and me as we time travel to the Ordovician period, some 488 million years ago. According to "Kraken" author Wendy Williams, "For a while the seas were deliciously warm and the planet seems to have been a kind of Garden of Eden, a time of nirvana that allowed life to flourish in many different forms."

This week we'll suit up, and with Gong the Trilobite as our mascot (pictured), we'll take to the waters to explore the huge biodiversification during the period's 45 million years, including coral, trilobites, cephalopods, brachiopods, primitive fish and cephalopods - to name a few.

We'll also gnash our teeth in appreciation for our jaws, which we can thank a few Ordovician creatures for, along with the continued evolution of the brain, development of complex eyesight and the immune system. It's these early vertebrates that provided key blueprint details for some of our most marked (and successful) human abilities.

Of course this underwater Garden of Eden couldn't last forever. The end of the period is marked with a glaciation event that wiped out most of the life forms (except the hardy trilobite). Could the glaciation event be attributed to tectonic activity or the burgeoning flora taking hold in the inhospitable soil?

Special thanks to Lucye Lamb (sis to Robert) for the incredible hand-made trilobite necklace made out of polymer clay. She looked at diagrams and photos of trilobite fossils in order to meticulously render Gong. Check out her Etsy shop for more on how she draws inspiration from nature and travel.


[audio http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/podcasts.howstuffworks.com/hsw/podcasts/sciencelab/2012-11-01-stbym-ordovician-waters.mp3]

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