Today the CentreLine wants to take you on a short journey. A journey through the extraordinarily improbable, yet wondrous history of our chance existence on this rare and fragile orb of rock, circling the habitable zone of a main sequence star, hanging on the outer arm of an otherwise nondescript spiral galaxy in a cluster of millions upon millions of such galaxies.
Galaxies whose faint light dusts the curtain of inky black emptiness in which all existence is suspended.
This cosmic dust mote we call Earth is the only place in all of creation, where, as far as we know, an unknown reaction some in a brew of soupy, warm amino acids 3.8 billion years ago produced a single-celled prokaryotic organism – a lifeform. One billion years later and the natural force of evolution produced an incredible breakthrough – the first multicellular organism. And so progressed a rapid dissemination of life, at first in the oceans – the arthropods, then fish, and then the rapid greening of our world, with plant based life spreading over land surfaces from about 475 million years ago.
200 million years ago our distant cousins, the first hair covered, warm blooded mammals began to tread fearfully in the undergrowth, prey for dinosaurs, some of which had sprouted feathers and began to take to the skies.
And only 200,000 years ago, our ancestors first emerged from a line of primate/hominid ancestors on the plains of Africa. For 185,000 years those ancestors were born, lived short lives and died, possessed of the same intelligence as us, but deprived of our interconnected and informed modern world. Nightfall was a time for fear, the forests were filled with predators, and the spirit world needed to be appeased if that great burning light in the sky was to rise again. Sickness came without explanation and was either passing, or was the end. Rotten teeth were more likely than not to be the end. A bad fall chasing prey, childbirth or even a large splinter could spell the end.
But 15,000 or so years ago, our nomadic ancestors discovered agriculture and settled in one place. And so came the rise of empires, on the Euphrates, the Tigris, the Ganges, the Tiber and the Yangtze. Humankind strove to build or to expand our knowledge of the world. We conquered mathematics, we studied what it is to exist, we engineered the pyramids. We painted the Sistine Chapel. We circumnavigated the globe.
Even now, we make gradual but continual progress against the diseases that ravage us. We fire atoms into one another at close to light speed and study the nature of our universe in the flotsam and jetsam of these microscopic collisions. We have reached across our solar system and touched the cloudtops of Jupiter with machines built on the surface of Earth, creating a new high in the continuous journey of human evolution.
And you, dear Buzzfeed writer, you wrote this: 15 hedgehogs with things that look like hedgehogs