Long ago, before humankind, the Earth was home to millions of species that have since died out and vanished from all presence on Earth.
These were the times of terrible lizards, which weren’t lizards, all the way back to the earliest stages of life in the primordial goop of random acids and proteins, which eventually got tangled into the first strands of DNA.
But somewhere in between the time when all life wasn’t, and then was way too big, there was a period where life was still finding a way onto land that felt just right.
Crawling, inching, and scuttling onto the sand, this brave new life took the form of the most efficient and grotesque we know.
Before the ice age, mammals, dinosaurs, or even the prototypical vertebrates, the ocean, and land belonged to whatever was the closest thing we know to be fish.
There were two significant hegemonies of life in the water: stuff with scales and gills and things with hard shells. Invertebrates were and still are among the most populous animals on the planet by sheer volume.
Their explosive breeding means they don’t need to be the strongest to survive; they need to keep existing.
It’s good that most bugs are bug-sized. But back then, evolution was still toying around with wild ideas, like making bugs the size of a compact car.
10 /10 Big Bug
Scientists in England have unearthed fossilized remains of an invertebrate about 2.5 meters long.
That’s close to 9 feet. But it wasn’t like a worm or a thin, tread-like being that compressed its usable organs and skin surface across a long body.
It was also wide. It was a giant millipede, part of the Arthropleura family.
Nothing on Earth compares to today; it lived over 300 million years ago.
9 /10 Deep Breaths
The source of the giant millipede is the same as the source of all life during the Carboniferous Period, so named because this particular period had a pronounced lack of carbon in the atmosphere and an abundance of oxygen.
A high oxygen environment facilitates more growth, larger size, and animals.
The Earth, during this period, had 5% more oxygen than what we have right now in our atmosphere.