The Simulation Hypothesis DRONEFACE

Learn how exhibitionism has can have an evolutionary payoff.

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But the branch of the that readers might find most interesting led to humans. Humans are in the phylum, and the last common ancestor that founded the Chordata phylum is still a mystery and understandably a source of controversy. Was our ancestor a ? A ? Peter Ward made the case, as have others for a long time, that it was the sea squirt, also called a tunicate, which in its larval stage resembles a fish. The nerve cord in most bilaterally symmetric animals runs below the belly, not above it, and a sea squirt that never grew up may have been our direct ancestor. Adult tunicates are also highly adapted to extracting oxygen from water, even too much so, with only about 10% of today’s available oxygen extracted in tunicate respiration. It may mean that tunicates adapted to low oxygen conditions early on. Ward’s respiration hypothesis, which makes the case that adapting to low oxygen conditions was an evolutionary spur for animals, will repeatedly reappear in this essay, as will . Ward’s hypothesis may be proven wrong or will not have the key influence that he attributes to it, but it also has plenty going for it. The idea that fluctuating oxygen levels impacted animal evolution has been gaining support in recent years, particularly in light of recent reconstructions of oxygen levels in the eon of complex life, called and , which have yielded broadly similar results, but their variances mean that much more work needs to be performed before on the can be done, if it ever can be. Ward’s basic hypotheses is that when oxygen levels are high, ecosystems are diverse and life is an easy proposition; when oxygen levels are low, animals adapted to high oxygen levels go extinct and the survivors are adapted to low oxygen with body plan changes, and their adaptations helped them dominate after the extinctions. The has a pretty wide range of potential error, particularly in the early years, and it also tracked atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. The challenges to the validity of a model based on data with such a wide range of error are understandable. But some broad trends are unmistakable, as it is with other models, some of which are generally declining carbon dioxide levels, some huge oxygen spikes, and the generally relationship between oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, which a geochemist would expect. The high carbon dioxide level during the Cambrian, of at least 4,000 PPM (the "RCO2" in the below graphic is a ratio of the calculated CO2 levels to today's levels), is what scientists think made the times so hot. (Permission: Peter Ward, June 2014)

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After as little as a half-million years of bedraggled survivors adapting to ice age seas, the ice sheets retreated and the oceans rose. The of the time may have also changed, and upwelling, anoxia, and other dramatic chemistry and nutrient changes happened. Those dynamics are suspected to be responsible for the second wave of extinctions. There also seem to have been .Atmospheric oxygen levels may have fallen from around 20% to 15% during the Ordovician, which would have contributed to the mass death. Seafloor anoxia seems to have been particularly lethal to continental-shelf biomes, possibly all the way to shore. It took the ecosystems millions of years to recover from the Ordovician-Silurian mass extinction, but basic ecosystem functioning was not significantly altered in the aftermath, which is why a has been proposed as a more significant extinction event. The were laid down by the . Most oil deposits were formed in the era of dinosaurs and the processes of oil deposit formation were similar; they were related to oceanic currents. When currents came to shore via the bottom and the prevailing winds blew the top waters offshore, it became a and anoxic sediments could form. When the winds blew onshore and left via the bottom, the waters became clear and are known as nutrient deserts. The oscillation between nutrient traps and nutrient deserts can be seen in oil deposit sediments. In the mid-20th century, Soviet scientists revived an old hypothesis that oil was , a variation of which was also championed by , but improving tools and investigation invalidated those hypotheses. No petroleum geologists today seriously consider the abiogenic origin of hydrocarbons. Oil sediment formation events seem related to mantle and crust processes that created high sea levels and anoxic events, and the last great one was in the , which formed more than 10% of the world's oil deposits.

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Except for New Guinean highlanders, initial European contact with all of those relict populations was universally disastrous, just as and elsewhere for centuries. Those initial contacts happened in anthropology’s early days, and studied the Andamans in the early 20th century, when they were tattered remnants of the people of a century earlier. The people were also devastated by European invasion. When the Dutch invaded what became South Africa, the Southern San were driven to extinction while the !Kung survived in the . Andamans, !Kung, and Aboriginal Australians all had/have strikingly similar religious ceremonies, which were marathon singing and dancing sessions that could last all night. Some rituals lasted for months. Their rituals are very likely what the first religions looked like, which were strenuous ordeals in which people reached frenzied states that left them exhausted. Today’s leading hypothesis is that those rituals created group cohesion that held their society together. The social glue of monkey and ape societies is grooming, but humans seem to have , and those early rituals further cemented the bonds.

This simulation lets you explore various aspects of sampling distributions