The Two Mass Extinctions
“Plankton has appeared in the ocean… Hatchery, start setting up the genetic locks to limit the size of these spore-born organisms!”
Xu Zhi frowned as he silently gave his instructions.
Space in the orchard was limited, so he could not possibly allow them to evolve to be too big.
The memories of the Insecta Queen of the previous generation also showed that the kind of evolution that allowed for the forming of huge bodies was a mistake.
There was no need to deliberately expand the body size of the Insecta species. Keeping to the species’ original small size was the correct way for evolution to occur. The smaller the body, the easier it was to generate a qualitative change in energy.
Therefore, the size of their bodies should not be allowed to increase any further.
The size of the organisms in the sandbox was no larger than that of a normal ant. This was what a true member of the Insecta race should be. Even if the biggest of all of them had evolved into the level of a dinosaur, it would still be no bigger than a cat.
A bug that was the size of a cat was already abnormally large.
And a sandbox that occupied less than a couple feet of land would be the equivalent of a small province for microscopic ecological organisms that were of the size of ants.
On the afternoon of the sixth day, a drastic change was finally seen in the ocean of the Paleozoic era that was filled with unicellular organisms, as multicellular organisms began to appear in the water.
Within a few minutes, Xu Zhi felt as though he was watching an ecological documentary on fast forward. In the manmade ocean that he had created, new phytoplankton species were constantly being born. Within just a few seconds, they would die and give rise to the next generation…
Soon, large patches of unique hydrophytes of all kinds were floating on the surface of the pond in the orchard.
At first, Xu Zhi had simply wanted to try casting some unicellular organisms into the ocean and allowing them to evolve into different species. He had never expected to see such a vigorous oue.
“I accelerated time to condense ten thousand years into one day. It has only been six days. Over sixty thousand years, unicellular organisms in the ocean would have evolved into plankton, forming something similar to the ultra-Paleozoic ocean found during the final period of the Earth’s Phanerozoic Eon, which was the result of the Cambrian Explosion 500 million years ago. The Insecta’s spores are very powerful…”
Xu Zhi was ignorant when it came to Earth’s history of evolution.
But of course, he could just go back to his room, switch on his laptop, search the Internet, and madly memorize as much information about the Earth’s evolutionary history as he could, learning about the birth origins of species, the Cambrian Period, Silurian Period, Devonian Period…
After all, Earth could be used as a reference.
“But it’s getting dark soon. The thing that I’m most worried about is starting a world in the sandbox that will immediately be destroyed…”
He looked at the manmade ocean in his yard, then looked up at the dark and gloomy sky. In the corner of the wall, dusk was casting its last glow.
With the evolution of cellular division accelerating at a rate of ten thousand times, he had condensed ten thousand years into one day, which meant that five thousand years was daytime, and five thousand years was nighttime.
Now that the sky had darkened, it also meant that the long five thousand years of daytime had passed, and they were about to usher in another five thousand years’ worth of endless night.
Sunlight was the source of all things. These hydrophytes that had just been born in the ocean would soon lose their ability to photosynthesize. Then they would simply wither and die.
As it turned out, just after nightfall, the moment the sunlight was gone, a drastic change appeared in the ocean.
Large patches of hydrophytes withered, sank to the bottom of the sea, and lost their lives. The ocean became just like the Dead Sea. In the dim light of the night, the ocean was devoid of life.
“The first mass extinction in my era of evolution has begun… I did not expect it to be that fast.”
Xu Zhi took a deep breath.
He looked online for information.
During the long era of evolution, from the birth of unicellular organisms to the evolution of multicellular organisms, then to the reproduction of various ancient species, Earth had experienced five extremely tragic and brutal mass extinctions!
The most well-known mass extinction in history was naturally the one that occurred at the end of the Cretaceous Period, the one which, sixty-five million years ago, ended the age of the dinosaurs, the one-time overlord of Earth. At that time, eighty percent of all the animals on Earth died.
Earth’s first mass extinction was actually the one that occurred four hundred million years ago, at the end of the Ordovician Period.
That was due to a sudden drop in temperature and the lowering of sea levels, which led to the destruction of Earth’s marine ecosystem, directly wiping out eighty-five percent of the marine species at that time.
At present, the situation was unlike what had happened on Earth. It was because of the arrival of night. The sudden arrival of an endless night that spanned a long period of five thousand years brought about the sudden loss of sunlight, thus causing the first mass extinction in his sandbox.
Earth was a huge planet, in which billions of species followed the rule of survival of the fittest. With its large capacity to bepatible, it was resilient enough to survive, even if it had to experience a mass extinction.
But it was different for his sandbox, where the environment was too small.
Honestly speaking, even if the ponds and ocean were filled up, there would only be tens of millions of races. According to Darwinian evolution, such a small sample base of organisms was not enough to evolve a new species that was adaptable to its environment.
“But these are unicellular organisms of the Insecta race that are extremely adaptable, and these spores could even survive on a barren planet. There is no reason they cannot…”
Xu Zhi took a deep breath. He was feeling somewhat excited and uneasy.
He waited patiently. Moonlight spilled down on the courtyard. After half an hour, a streak of pale blue suddenly emerged on the surface of the ocean that had previously been devoid of life and full of dead hydrophytes.
It was a blue plant that was the size of an ant, with delicately shaped leaves.
Without the direct light from the sun, this plant chose to direct its source of photosynthesis to the meager light of the moon, and this was how it managed to eke out a chance for survival.
This plant had successfully survived the first round of the mass extinction. Within a fleeting moment, it grew, matured, and died, all within a matter of seconds. It was like a movie on fast forward.
It began to evolve rapidly from one generation to the next. As only those who could adapt could survive, the plant adapted frantically to the night environment, giving rise to shapes like rhomboids and round discs. Like lotus leaves, they spread out on the ocean’s surface in order to better absorb the moonlight shining down on the yard.
Another hour passed.
As the only marine species in the sandbox, this hydrophyte was named the “Blue Moongrass” by Xu Zhi. It had evolved over tens of thousands of generations and had begun to form various sub-branches.
There were angular types, slender types, oval types, deep-sea types, shallow-water types… Its development had reached a point where it had diverged into two distinct species.
A part of the Blue Moongrass species continued to absorb moonlight while evolving to enhance the efficiency of its transformation.
Another part of the Blue Moongrass species actually began to turn carnivorous and preyed on the other Blue Moongrass. Similarly, they were still absorbing moonlight, but they used it to emit a faint glow that attracted the other Blue Moongrass to float nearer, and then they would devour them.
Xu Zhi saw this and marveled at the tenacity and wonders of life. It was survival of the fittest. “Having made it through the first mass extinction, this was the only surviving species of hydrophytes, and all by itself, it has developed its own diverse civilization in the ocean in the dark night.”
He took out a black notebook that he found, picked up his pen, and recorded the evolutionary process of this sandbox.
“How about also following Earth’s geologic time scale when recording the progress of the countless eras of evolution within my sandbox?
“The biological explosion that occurred in the Cambrian Period on Earth made that era the origin of all life on Earth. Only after that event were there dinosaurs, humans, and all kinds of beasts.… The biological explosion here in this sandbox of mine is facing five thousand years of darkness instead… Let’s call this the Dark Cambrian Period.”
With a burst of enthusiasm, he flipped to the first page of this black notebook and wrote the first line of The Genesis:
During the Dark Cambrian period, the universe underwent an abrupt change. The sun set and the moon rose in the sky. The world was plunged into five thousand years of darkness. Ninety-nine percent of marine life became extinct. The Blue Moongrass, which could absorb moonlight for survival, became the sole surviving species that flourished in the dark ocean. The Blue Moongrass became the overlord of this era.
He looked at the pond that was named the “Ocean of Life” in silent anticipation.
“According to the history of the evolution of life on Earth, the ocean is where all life originated. Aquatic plants will be the first to appear, and they will continue to thrive and increase in number. And next up will be marine animals. What kind of marine animal would evolve from the Insecta cells?”
He stayed awake all night and waited until dawn.
The seventh day had finally begun!
However, the first evolution of marine animals did not happen on the seventh day as Xu Zhi had expected it to. Instead, another horrific biological explosion was ushered in!
It was because the sun rose.
The very moment the sun came up, the various species of Blue Moongrass that had flourished in the ocean late at night rapidly withered.
They were accustomed to receiving weak moonlight at night. But now that they were suddenly made to receive such strong direct sunlight, they sank to the bottom of the sea as though they had been incinerated.
Instantly, the Blue Moongrass began another round of mass extinction.
“The second mass extinction is breaking out so quickly. It just managed to survive not too long ago; it’s simply too tragic and brutal…”
This was the annihilation of life.
In this long evolutionary era that lasted billions of years, countless species were born and then became extinct. Such was the epic tale of a vast planet.
The evolution of the life of the spores had been a long and glorious journey. But now, in just a few hours, countless rounds of this species rising and falling were presented right before his very eyes. The shock that Xu Zhi felt was powerful yet inexplicable.
By afternoon, a dash of blue appeared among the withered plants, signaling a gradual return of life.
That was a star-shaped Blue Moongrass that had also weed its own mutation and evolution, successfully surviving this round of mass extinction. Under the scorching sun, it underwent a transformation and was born anew.
In order to better adapt to an environment with strong sunlight, it began to reproduce again, generation to generation.
In just a few minutes, there was death and rebirth, and countless generations were reproduced. The blue color began to gradually darken. Slowly, it took on a dark purplish hue. Finally, it formed a dark blue pentagram-shaped seaweed with a mysterious touch.
It had beautiful, mysteriously symmetrical leaves of pentagram shapes that could open and close.
At night, it would spread its pentagram-shaped leaves and flatten them on the surface of the ocean to enlarge the area that could absorb moonlight. But during the daytime, it would retract its leaves into buds to protect itself from the intense sunlight.
In that, it was similar to the Mimosa plant.
A mass extinction meant death and the annihilation of species, but it also presented the opportunities for smaller and weaker species to rise.
There were no longer any species throughout the entire ocean topete with it for survival. It began to rapidly reproduce again, proliferating various offshoots. It was pulsating with life as it filled the entire ocean.
“You have survived five thousand years of blazing sunlight and five thousand years of darkness.
“With the five thousand years of sun and moon, you became the sole survivor of the countless species. You have withstood both the blazing sun and the gloomy darkness. You are a true hero! Let’s call you Violet Ray Flower.” Xu Zhi smiled. He quietly picked up his pen and turned to the second page of his black diary.
He went on to record the second outburst of a mass extinction that had occurred in the evolutionary history of the world that belonged to the sandbox he created:
During the Light Cambrian Period, the universe underwent an abrupt change. The moon set and the sun rose, and the blazing sun appeared and hung high up in the sky for a long period of five thousand years. The Blue Moongrass that had survived and dominated the Dark Cambrian Period began dying out while one of its weaker offshoots, the Violet Ray Flower, surprisingly rose to be the protagonist of this era.
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