This paper takes part in the series essay competition of “great science” of Recordunkown.
The earth is a beautiful planet of life. As early as 4 billion years ago, simple life was born on the earth. Later, after a long evolution, there was a rich and colorful life world. The earth in the long billions of years, in the end, how many kinds of biological birth, I believe no one knows the exact answer. Although we don’t know which life appeared in the whole life history, scientists can still see the history of part of life through some archaeological fossils. For example, we now know from a large number of dinosaur fossils that the earth was ruled by a very powerful dinosaur 65 million years ago.
In fact, in the long life history of the earth, the hegemony of the earth is different in different periods. I believe many friends know that in the modern biosphere, in addition to the common mammals, there are a lot of species and quantities of organisms, and their appearance is very strange. Some people may have guessed what kind of creatures they are. They are insects at the bottom of the food chain.
I believe we are not unfamiliar with insects, which are very common in nature. The appearance of insects is very different from that of other kinds of creatures. They all look strange. It can be said that they look terrible. If insects are not generally small, in our eyes, they are all small. Therefore, we will not be afraid of insects, and even many of them are on people’s table.
If insects become as big as human beings, will friends feel terrible and afraid? The answer is yes. Let’s not talk about the strength of insects, just their appearance. Once they grow big, these insects are not weird in our eyes, but creatures that make us feel scared and terrifying.
In people’s cognition, most animals are cute and cute, such as giant panda, koala and so on. From the aspect of appearance, these animals are not terrible. The reason is that they are not particularly strange, and even many animals are very cute and welcome by many people. Mammals generally have a cute, lovely appearance, so that people do not particularly hate and fear.
But insects are different. In the insect family, there are very few insects that can arouse people’s favor. The reason why most insects are not afraid is that they are too small. For example, ants are not afraid when you see them. They are too small. But if one day, ants are as big as dogs, aren’t you afraid? 99% of people are scared.
In fact, when we magnify insects dozens of times, many people will be afraid of their strange appearance. But now insects are tiny, so when insects dominate, have they ever appeared? The answer is yes. Through archaeology, scientists have discovered some insect fossils from ancient times. Through these fossils, we initially know that the Carboniferous period 250 million years ago was an era when insects dominated the earth. We can also call it the age of giant insects.
How big were the insects in the age of giant insects? Generally, it is dozens of times larger than our current insects. For example, dragonflies at that time had a wingspan of more than one meter. Scientists have found an ancient fossil of dragonfly, whose wingspan is more than 2 meters. Insects such as dragonflies were nothing in the Carboniferous. Centipedes were more than 3 meters long, and they were relatively powerful insects in the age of giant insects.
In addition to dragonflies and centipedes, there are countless kinds of giant insects. Some people may ask, were insects the biggest creatures in the Carboniferous era? Of course not. In fact, insects can’t be the biggest creatures in any era. The reason is that the characteristics of insects make it difficult for them to grow as big as large mammals.
Insects belong to arthropods, and they are totally different from vertebrates in appearance and internal structure. It’s scary to magnify the head of any insect. Fortunately, insects will never grow as big as vertebrates. The exoskeleton structure of insects is very different from that of vertebrates.
The exoskeleton structure can only grow close to the inner side of the body, so when it grows to a certain extent and can no longer expand, it needs to continue to grow through the method of shelling. Therefore, as the size of insects increases, their flexibility is also decreasing, so the flexibility of insects is generally not good. Because of the special internal structure of insects, their life span is generally short, which is far from being comparable with that of mammals.
Moreover, the respiratory organs of insects are primitive. They breathe through the trachea, not through the lungs, where oxygen naturally diffuses into the blood throughout the body. This particularly primitive way of breathing leads to the strong dependence of insects on oxygen. Only in oxygen enriched environment can insects grow better and become huge.
The reason why insects were so huge 250 million years ago was that the oxygen content in the atmosphere at that time was more than 35%, far more than 21% today. High oxygen content made insects, so they could grow bigger and bigger, and became the overlord at that time. Let’s continue with the previous topic. Even when the oxygen level was very high, insects became very huge, but they could not become the largest living things on the earth at that time. Why did they finally become the overlord of the earth at that time?
In fact, the reason is not complicated, because of the particularity of insect bones, they are all Hercules, which we can see from ants. Ants are very small now, but the carrying capacity of ants is very powerful. They can lift food several times heavier than themselves. In nature, only ants can do this. Mammals can’t do that.
It is because insects are very powerful, and they generally have a very strong shell, so the size of insects was not the largest at that time, but the strength was the strongest. I believe everyone has heard the story of ants killing elephants. Small ants may eat elephants, not to mention giant ants that are more than 100 times larger than today.
If ants can be as big as mice, then the overlord in the biological world now, apart from humans, is ants, a tiny insect. And let’s not forget that the number of insects is really terrible. Now in the biological world, the reason why insects have become the existence of the bottom is that they are too small. But even so, insects are difficult to extinction, because their number is too much, so much that any kind of creatures are afraid and afraid.
Some people may ask: will the era of insect dominance be repeated in the future? In fact, no one can give a definite answer to this question. Normally, as long as the oxygen content of the atmosphere does not change dramatically, the era of giant insects will not come. Insects will not turn over one day, but it’s hard to say about nature. If the atmospheric content returns to more than 35% one day in the future, the spring of insects will come again, and the era of giant insects will come.
Of course, even if one day the era of giant insects comes, as long as human beings still exist on the earth, then we will be the overlord, and insects can only be the second. The reason is that human beings are intelligent life. Intelligent life is not ahead of its own strength, but ahead of wisdom. No matter how powerful insects are, they are also a group of stupid big ones, which will be mercilessly crushed by human wisdom.
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