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A Visit to the Aquarium:

My Thoughts on Evolution

Jakarta, Indonesia (October 2017)

I love going to the zoo, aquarium or basically any place where I can witness the diverse forms of life, because it makes me feel united with life once more, and the combination of my structured mind and compulsive curiosity cannot help but try to fit my findings into the timeline of evolutionary history of life on Earth, which has always been a subject of my fascination.

Science has it that the Earth was formed approximately 4.5-billion years ago, but life on Earth did not exist until a billion year later. It is a beautiful mystery how it emerged, but it began in the water, and in the form of single-cell organisms. Then, some single-cell organisms began to form colonies, giving birth to the first multicellular organisms beginning in the Protezoic Era circa 600Ma. On our visit to Jakarta Aquarium last October, our encounters ranged from creatures which history dated back to as far as hundreds of millions of years ago to the modern ones. Beginning with the ancient cnidarians (jellyfish) which have been evolving since the Protezoic Era (580Ma), nautilus - the Triassic Era (250Ma), sharks - Paleozoic Era (420Ma), stingrays and garden eels - Early Cretaceous Era (146Ma), giant grouper - Mid Cretaceous Era (100Ma), to piranha - Cenozoic Era (66Ma), and homo sapiens ourselves whose ancestors had only emerged 2-million years ago in the Cenozoic Era.

I have come to think that if we could truly understand the beginning of everything and how we are all united in one giant circle of life, we would be really humble beings. Since as long as one could remember, we humans tend to think that we are at the top of the food chain, but truth be told we are merely higher mammals that came from these simpler beings. We, too, will someday disappear, and creatures that are newer and more advanced than us will emerge, and today, too, will someday seem distant and strange...

Everything changes all the time, and as the good ole' Heraclitus said, "No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." Even we ourselves are always on a transition from one version of ourselves to another. Change, impermanence and evolution are the mechanism through which life continues to exist, hence a fundamental aspect of our existence. It is not a matter of belief, but rather a fact and an essential part of life and all its beauty.

"Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death,

the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving,

namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows.

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers,

having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one;

and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity,

from so simple a beginning

endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."

-Charles Darwin ("On the Origin of Species," 1859)-

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