The first 500 million years, or so . . . Part 1

 

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So, let’s narrow our search. Let’s begin with Florida, because it wasn’t always here. Once, long, long ago, it was part of Africa.

500 MILLION YA BASALT

Hot Spots

There are hot spots deep beneath the earth’s crust. One of those plumes of heat is located underneath modern Hawaii. This drawing shows a part of North Africa about a billion years ago. It was crawling over a hot spot. As it did, glowing fountains of lava splashed up, flowing across the landscape. This place will become part of Florida.

 

510 Million YA Florida

Our planet around 510 million years ago. Florida was being made along the coastline at the lower right.

 

 

 

 

 

Out there, below the crystalline tides, 10 feet down, plant cells had spun this wonderful yarn, this precious fiber of life. Solar radiation was too intense for life to exist in the first 10 feet. And so it began below. Huge mats of algae formed to help bring oxygen to our atmosphere.

 

350 Million Year Old Super Continent Along this shore, a billion years ago, if we stooped down, and looked carefully, we may have discovered a few thin, hair-like strands washed up by the tide. These fine strands represent a member of an already ancient lineage of algae.

350 Million Year Old Super Continent Along this shore, a billion years ago, if we stooped down, and looked carefully, we may have discovered a few thin, hair-like strands washed up by the tide. These fine strands represent a member of an already ancient lineage of algae.

325 million years ago. Over there, across the water, that’s North America. We’re standing on Africa. Looking across this narrow strait, we still don’t see a lot of evidence of life. It’s still a fragile thing, scattered in dense pockets.

But, in the last 200 million years it has come amazingly far.

Below the water’s glassy surface, life is teaming. Across that water, the plants which would create our modern world are forming huge swamps. This is the age of coal. Of course — behind us, here in Africa, the same thing is happening.

This is our planet about 300 million years ago. Florida is in the lower central mountain range. The South Pole is covered with glacial ice. Can you imagine walking along a beach near the tropics?

This is our planet about 300 million years ago. Florida is in the lower central mountain range. The South Pole is covered with glacial ice. Can you imagine walking along a beach near the tropics?