An Ocean View: Cradle of Life

In this first edition of Ocean View, it’s only fair to start from the overarching topic, which in this case is the World Ocean, and more specifically: where did all life come from?

Covering 71% of our planet in a blue sheen, the ocean is an expanse of water that can stretch out for thousands upon tens of thousands of kilometres without encountering dry land. It acts as a barrier to some and as home to others; on small scales it can be the destroyer of life, but on a global scale, it ultimately preserves it through providing water to all of us, circulating nutrients throughout the world and even regulating what would otherwise be a wildly chaotic climate.

The ocean acts not only to preserve life on this planet, but it is also where all life originates (according to the leading theories). First came the protobionts: pseudo-cells that managed to cobble together some sort of crude metabolic and reproductive process, formed by a primordial soup of chemicals that arranged in just the right way. These protobionts eventually improved on their original design through trial and error and came to be known as bacteria, similar to prokaryote cells as we may know them. The story doesn’t stop there, though. Over time and through circumstance, some prokaryotes developed a membrane around their genetic material and even assimilated other prokaryotes into a sort of dependent symbiosis, an amalgam that would come to be known as an eukaryote. Later, eukaryotes would differentiate and complexify into all the multicellular organisms we know of today: animals, fungi, plants and all of their multicellular allies. Such a success was the multicellular body plan that we were even able to migrate away from home and onto land! While most air-breathing mammals are unable to return without assistance, some of our mammalian and reptilian brethren trekked back to it, called by instinct to a place where the genetic memory runs deep in their bones, and letting their bodies change over ages to accept the embrace of the ocean once more.

Us humans live on dry land exclusively today, but we all came from the ocean. It is the source of our existence, past and present. Perhaps that is why so many find a simple comfort in gazing out to sea: in a sense, it is like finding yourself back home.

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