Conditions which allowed for more complex life forms

A changing environment

Species that were unable to adapt to the changing environment and competition from other life forms became extinct. However, the fossil record retains evidence of many of these older species. Current fossil and DNA evidence shows that all existing species can trace a continual ancestry back to the first primitive life forms.

Aerial photography
Named after the ancient Mayan Province of Kimpech, the state of Campeche comprises much of the western half of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula – photo: USGS

Complex life forms

When basic forms of plant life developed the process of photosynthesis the sun’s energy could be harvested to create conditions which allowed for more complex life forms. Cells within colonies became increasingly specialized, resulting in true multicellular organisms. With the ozone layer absorbing harmful ultraviolet radiation, life colonized the surface of Earth.

The first form of life to develop on the Earth were microbes, and they remained the only form of life until about a billion years ago when multi-cellular organisms began to appear. Microorganisms are single-celled organisms that are generally microscopic, and smaller than the human eye can see.
They include:

Bacteria

Bacteria are a type of biological cell. They constitute a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometers in length, bacteria have a number of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals. Bacteria were among the first life forms to appear on Earth, and are present in most of its habitats.

Fungi

A fungus is any member of the group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, which is separate from the other eukaryotic life kingdoms of plants and animals.

Fungus
photo: Damir Omerović

Archaea

Archaea constitute a domain of single-celled organisms. These microorganisms lack cell nuclei and are therefore prokaryotes. Archaea were initially classified as bacteria, receiving the name archaebacteria (in the Archaebacteria kingdom), but this term has fallen out of use.

Protista

A protist is any eukaryotic organism that is not an animal, plant, or fungus. While it is likely that protists share a common ancestor, the exclusion of other eukaryotes means that protists do not form a natural group, or clade. So some protists may be more closely related to animals, plants, or fungi than they are to other protists; however, like algae, invertebrates, or protozoans, the grouping is used for convenience. The study of protists is termed protistology.

The Earth’s interior

These life forms are found in almost every location on the Earth where there is liquid water, including in the Earth’s interior.

Their reproduction is both rapid and profuse. The combination of a high mutation rate and a horizontal gene transfer form an essential part of the planetary ecosystem. However, some microorganisms are pathogenic and can post health risk to other organisms.

Among the many ways of classifying plants are by regional floras, which, depending on the purpose of study, can also include fossil flora, remnants of plant life from a previous era. People in many regions and countries take great pride in their individual arrays of characteristic flora, which can vary widely across the globe due to differences in climate and terrain.

Native flora

Regional floras commonly are divided into categories such as native flora and agricultural and garden flora, the lastly mentioned of which are intentionally grown and cultivated. Some types of ‘native flora’ actually have been introduced centuries ago by people migrating from one region or continent to another, and become an integral part of the native, or natural flora of the place to which they were introduced. This is an example of how human interaction with nature can blur the boundary of what is considered nature.

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John Roe

John Roe

John is a 26-year-old scientific researcher who enjoys drone photography, reading and waiting at bus stops. He is generous and loveable, but can also be very lazy. He has a degree in chemistry and is obsessed with bottled water.