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These beautiful landscapes have hidden the secrets of the beginning of life in their hearts

این مناظر زیبا رازهای آغاز حیات را در دل خود پنهان کرده‌اند

The images in this article take us on a journey through the history of the earth. Our planet is like an open book revealing the geological processes that led to the emergence of life.

French photographer Olivier Grunewald says, “This journey through time, space and diversity seeks to strengthen our bond with nature and inspire us to respect the earth.” For 30 years, he and his colleague, environmentalist and author Bernadette Gilbertas, have traveled across the globe to places that best exemplify the forces shaping our unique Earth; have documented – a project that Origins (Origins) is called. Our earth is a rocky planet born from chaos. Thanks to the force of evolution, it is home to various habitats and millions of animal species. One such species is ourselves, Homo sapiens, ensconced in the wonders of the Earth—and equally capable of destroying them.

A colorful geothermal field
Life emerged more than 3.5 billion years ago in an environment with water and volcanic activity, probably similar to the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia. The mineral-rich deposits in the Dallol geothermal field boast blue and green pools, sulfur-yellow banks, geysers, salt water springs, and salt crystals.
Raindrops on the plants of the Brazilian Pantanal wetland
Raindrops on plants
Drops of a heavy morning rain in the Pantanal wetland in Brazil decorate the blue ear ferns (Salvinia auriculata); A type of fern native to Rionogro. The roots of all modern plants can be traced back to processes that began in ancient microalgae.

Concerned about climate change and other environmental problems, Grunwald and Gilbertas focused their energies on paying homage to our wonderful planet. “It took 4.5 billion years for this lush, bountiful and hospitable planet to form,” says Grunwald. What will we do now? “Do we continue to create ecological crises, or do we finally decide to avoid the worst possible event?”

Origins It shows the beauty and vastness of wild nature. Volcanoes spew out glowing streams of lava. Auroras dance like ghosts on frosty nights. Erosive forces shape mountains. The young life is struggling to find a way to survive. Vegetation grows all over the earth and various animals live in the habitats of the earth. Gilbertas says, “Nature, sometimes unbridled, sometimes calm, but always in motion, is an endless source of inspiration.”

These photographs – a small part of Grünwald’s collection – are classified in four stages. The first stage is Chaos – images that reflect the chaotic origins of the planet. Terrain, the second category, focuses on landscapes shaped by erosive forces. Oasis shows the range of plants – their constant struggle to emerge in the most unlikely environments. Finally, the animals theme captures the biodiversity of the animal kingdom in all its glory.

Grunwald and Gilbertas have captured the essence of places that bear witness to Earth’s distant past—an ancient pulse that sparked life.

Sunrise on the side of the Grand Canyon's Toroipe Rock
Sunrise on the side of a rock
The glow of the rising sun bathes the cliff of Thorpe Point in the heart of Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park. Lateral incisions of the canyon, a vast gorge formed by the Colorado River, reveal two billion years of geologic history.
Ice on the aurora boreal lake of Ukulsarlon
Ice on a lake under the glow of a green aurora borealis
Chunks of ice float in the magical aurora on Lake Jökulsárlón, Iceland. The northern lights appear when solar winds travel across and collide with the magnetosphere, which shields Earth from solar radiation, creating these lights at high latitudes.
Boiling lava of Mount Virunga, Congo
Boiling lava of a volcano downwards
On early Earth, volcanic rocks formed rocks floating on the crust; Like these pieces in a crater of bubbling lava at Nyiragongo Volcano in the Virunga Mountains of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

chaos

According to scientists, everything started 4.5 billion years ago; When a supernova explosion caused the collapse of the solar nebula – a swirling cloud of gas and dust – and the birth of our solar system.

Eight planets and many other celestial bodies began to orbit our giant star, the Sun. Of these, only three planets – Venus, Earth and Mars – were in the habitable zone; A region around the Sun where liquid water can exist on planets. But as far as we know, only Earth won the race for life – a long, difficult and dangerous journey.

In the beginning, our planet was a bright body and its particles were under the cruel pressure and pull of gravity. Heavier elements sank to the center of the earth and formed a metallic core. Then a long cooling process formed the two main components of life: the earth’s crust and water vapor that condensed and fell – the first rain. Asteroids and meteorites bombarded the planet, and constant earthquakes and eruptions released huge amounts of magma and gas from fissures and volcanoes.

At some point in time, distinct tectonic plates formed on the planet, moving together and pushing against each other, pushing some of the rocks back into the Earth. Volcanoes, often formed near the edges of tectonic plates, provided continuous outlets for heat from the Earth’s interior. Luckily for us, heat is still being generated inside the Earth due to the radioactive decay of uranium and other elements left over from the planet’s formation. This process, along with the sun, keeps the planet at a favorable temperature for life.

Also, the internal processes of the earth immerse us in a magnetic field that covers from the core to space and protects us from cosmic radiation. Without this protection, solar winds can separate the Earth’s atmosphere and make its surface dry and uninhabitable. This delicate balance makes the emergence of life in the chaos of the early Earth all the more surprising.

Uluru sandstone outcrop, Australia
red under the light; A tall sandstone outcrop
As the sun rises, a thin cloud hangs over Uluru; A sandstone outcrop in the heart of Australia that was formed about 500 million years ago. This stone, which is sacred to the native people of this area, stands 863 meters high in the vast lands of the Northern Territory.
The Lorado River twists around the sandstone wall
The twisting of the Colorado River around the stone wall
About five million years ago, the Colorado River created this sandstone wall; A wall near Page, Arizona, aptly named Horseshoe Bend.

the earth

American philosopher and farmer Wendel Berry wrote, “Soil is the great communicator of our lives, the source and destination of all.” The earth we speak of has been shaped by the forces of nature since its inception.

Like participants in a cosmic conspiracy, meteorites, volcanoes and earthquakes join the forces of water, wind and gravity to change the earth’s crust; A combination of elements such as oxygen, silicon, aluminum, iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium.

The result is an endless and extremely diverse collection of phenomena: towering mountains, narrow and deep valleys, fjords, oceanic trenches, dunes and cliffs. Rocks and minerals made up of primitive elements have been carved over billions of years. At some point in history, organic molecules began to accumulate in ancient sediments. These molecules played a key role in the formation of a new and powerful force: life.

The science of geology reveals the history of the earth’s structure and composition to us. Although many of the rock mysteries have disappeared from the face of the earth, other amazing formations remain to tell us the story of all geological periods. Each of these places—the Grand Canyon, Capitol Reef in Utah, Australia’s Mount Uluru, and the stony forest of Madagascar—takes us on an introspective journey that reveals the wonders of our planet.

Tirdan trees at sunset
Trees with sunset background
These trees in Namibia are popular with the San people; They hollow out the branches to make shafts for their arrows. These trees, which are threatened by rising temperatures, have canopies that are ideal places for group nesting of Jolla’s hens.

the oasis

The first living things on earth appeared about 3.5 billion years ago; Only a few hundred million years after the birth of the planet. We still don’t know how this happened, although some studies claim that the essential organic molecules formed in deep-sea geothermal vents. Regardless of how these early organisms originated, they unleashed an unstoppable force on the planet.

Cyanobacteria, photosynthetic bacteria, played an essential role in this expansion. They were the first microorganisms to achieve the ability to photosynthesize, which allowed them to produce energy and oxygen as waste from sunlight.

Thanks to cyanobacteria, the ancient Earth’s atmosphere – which consisted mainly of hydrogen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide – became an oxygen-rich environment. Oxygen reacted with sunlight to form the ozone layer, which protects the earth’s surface from ultraviolet radiation. Oxygen-consuming cells, or aerobic cells, became extremely abundant, while anaerobic microorganisms that had proliferated in the absence of oxygen began to decline.

The green landscape of the Olympic National Park in Washington, D.C
A lush landscape in a rainforest
The Ho Rainforest in the heart of Olympic National Park in Washington, D.C., is one of the last remaining temperate rainforests in North America and a real feast for the eyes. Many species of life reproduce under the canopy of conifers, mosses and ferns.
Screaming swans race in Siberia
Swans run on ice
With the arrival of autumn, whooper swans (Cygnus cygnus) fly in the sky in Siberia to escape the extreme cold, up to minus 50 degrees. After a non-stop migration of 3,800 kilometers in 18 hours, they reach the more temperate island of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island.
Australian hardy rock water
water stone from the sky
Hardy reef is one of the thousands of formations that form the Great Barrier Reef of Australia; The largest structure on earth formed by living organisms. This rock is full of sea sponges that appeared in the seas about 600 million years ago. Human activity threatens this delicate ecosystem.

Even some of these microorganisms caused the emergence of “eukaryote” cells with the help of symbiotic force; with protective membranes and an inner nucleus – the building blocks of all plants and animals.

For over a billion years, single-celled organisms were the only form of life on Earth. Complex multicellular organisms, with different types of cells with different functions, were not common until before the Carboniferous Explosion 540 million years ago. The increase in oxygen levels and other environmental conditions caused the extraordinary proliferation and diversity of life.

New species evolved in terrestrial and marine ecosystems, forming an interwoven web of life that endured for thousands of years—with a delicate balance that today is increasingly threatened by human activity.

animals

The Last Universal Common Ancestor, abbreviated as LUCA, is a hypothetical organism from which all living things are descended. We still don’t know when or where LUCA lived, although some scientists think LUCA may have been a single-celled bacterium that lived in sulfur-rich geothermal vents on the seafloor four billion years ago.

Life eventually evolved into more complex forms, especially after eukaryotic organisms began exchanging genes through sexual reproduction. Almost 500 million years ago, plants and fungi came out of the seas and conquered the earth. The appearance of the first arthropods – the ancestors of today’s insects, arachnids and crustaceans – was a sign of the arrival of diverse and countless species of life that created a huge network of physical, chemical and biological interactions.

Bison around a geyser
Bison around a geyser
An estimated 50 million bison once roamed the United States, but after a mass slaughter—an attempt to starve out Native Americans—only 600 survived by 1875. Today, this species has been recovered as many as 5,000 heads in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

The appearance of vegetation in the Cambrian explosion initiated a new wave of species diversification that eventually led to the evolution of the first hominids six million years ago and our own species, Homo sapiens, more than 230,000 years ago. Among all the agents of change, none have changed the earth like humans. We have become the most powerful erosive force on earth, and the weight of our products is greater than the weight of the entire biomass of the planet.

While humans are intelligent enough to understand the amazing history of life on Earth, we still have a long way to go to take on the responsibility that comes with this awareness and how to preserve Earth’s biosphere from our endless ambitions. let’s find out

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