Buyer's Guide

Physical Mechanisms That Trigger Evolution

It is estimated that the Earth is about 4.6 billion years old. There is no doubt that the Earth has undergone some fundamental changes over this very long time. This means that life on Earth must also accumulate adaptations in order to survive. These physical changes on Earth can drive evolution as the species on the planet change as the planet itself changes. While the changes in the world can be experienced due to internal or external sources, these changes have continued until today.

Continental Drift

He may feel that the ground we stand on every day is stable and firm, but that is not the case. The continents on Earth are divided into large plates that move and float on the liquid-like rock that makes up the Earth’s mantle. These plates are like shakes that move as convection currents in the mantle move under them. The movement of these plates is called plate tectonics and somehow the actual movement of the plates is measured. Some plates move faster than others, but all move at a very slow speed, an average of a few centimeters a year.

This movement gives rise to what scientists call continental drift. Real continents diverge and come together depending on the direction in which the plates to which they are attached move. All continents have been a major landmass at least twice in Earth’s history. These supercontinents are named Rodinia and Pangea. Eventually, the continents will reunite at some point in the future to create a new supercontinent (now called Pangea Ultima).

How does continental drift affect evolution? As the continents diverged from Pangea, the species living on it separated from the seas and oceans, so speciation occurred. Individuals who were once able to crossbreed were isolated from each other through breeding and eventually acquired adaptations that made them incompatible. This drove evolution by creating new species. Also, as continents drift, they enter new climates. What was once at the equator may now be close to the poles. If the species does not adapt to these changes in weather and temperature, then it will not survive and become extinct. New species would replace them and learn to survive in new areas.

Global Climate Change

While individual continents and their species had to adapt to new climates as they drifted, they also faced a different type of climate change. Earth periodically transitioned to extreme hot conditions between very cold ice ages on the planet. The resulting climate changes affected other internal resources and caused minor changes in the orbits around the sun. These are due to various factors such as differences in ocean currents, accumulation of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Whatever the cause, these sudden or gradual changes in climate force species to adapt and evolve.

Extreme cold periods often cause glaciation, which lowers sea levels. Everything living in the aquatic biome will be affected by this type of climate change. Likewise, rapidly rising temperatures are melting glaciers and raising sea levels. Extremely hot or cold periods caused rapid mass extinction of species that could not adapt over time during the geological time scale.

Volcanic Eruptions

While volcanic eruptions on the scale that could cause widespread destruction and trigger evolution are few and far between, it is true that they do occur. In fact, such an explosion occurred in recorded history in the 1880s. The Krakatau volcano in Indonesia erupted, and the amount of ash and debris managed to lower the global temperature significantly that year, blocking the Sun. While this has little known effect on evolution, it is hypothesized that if several volcanoes erupt in this way at the same time, it could cause some drastic changes in climate and hence changes in species.

It is known that the Earth had a large number of very active volcanoes in the early stages of the Geological Time Scale. As life on Earth was just beginning, these volcanoes could contribute to the very early speciation and adaptation of the species to help create the diversity of life that continues as time passes.

Space Debris

Meteorites, asteroids, and other space debris hitting the Earth are actually quite common. However, thanks to our beautiful and thoughtful atmosphere, extremely large chunks of these extraterrestrial boulders do not usually arrive to damage the Earth’s surface. However, Earth did not always have an atmosphere for the rock to burn before landing.

Like volcanoes, meteorite impacts can drastically change the climate and cause major changes in Earth’s species, including mass extinctions. In fact, a massive meteor strike near the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico is thought to be the cause of the mass extinction that destroyed dinosaurs at the end of the Mesozoic Age. These effects can also release ash and dust into the atmosphere and cause great changes in the amount of sunlight reaching Earth. Not only does this affect global temperatures, but the prolonged absence of sunlight can affect the energy going to plants that can undergo photosynthesis. Without the production of energy by plants, animals would run out of energy to eat and survive.

Atmospheric Changes

Earth is the only planet known to have life in the Solar system. There are many reasons for this, because you are the only planet with liquid water and the only planet with a large amount of oxygen in the atmosphere. Our atmosphere has undergone many changes since the creation of Earth. The most important change took place in the process known as the oxygen revolution. When life began to form on Earth, there was little or no oxygen in the atmosphere. As photosynthetic organisms became the norm, their waste oxygen remained in the atmosphere. Eventually, oxygen-using organisms evolved and evolved.

With the addition of many greenhouse gases resulting from the burning of fossil fuels, the changes in the atmosphere have started to have some effects on the evolution of species on Earth. The rate of increase in global temperature on an annual basis does not appear to be alarming, but it is causing the glaciers to melt and sea levels to rise, as they did during periods of mass extinction in the past.