|The Fifth Mass Extinction Long Ago|
But let's do so in the context of their having survived five previous mass extinctions of life on Earth, and their role in the current anthropogenic sixth mass extinction now ongoing (The Evolution of Anthropogenic Extinction by Catastrophe).
There are several hypotheses and theories about how life started on the planet Earth.
These hypotheses and theories break down into two main categories: 1) life evolved on the Earth, or 2) life came from space in the form of microbes that were on debris that impacted the Earth's atmosphere, land surface, and/or waters --as meteorites.
Either way, it happened a long time ago, because several indications of microbial life that is some 3.8 billion years old have been written about:
"Microbially induced sedimentary structures (MISS) result from the response of microbial mats to physical sediment dynamics. MISS are cosmopolitan and found in many modern environments, including shelves, tidal flats, lagoons, riverine shores, lakes, interdune areas, and sabkhas. The structures record highly diverse communities of microbial mats and have been reported from numerous intervals in the geological record up to 3.2 billion years (Ga) old. This contribution describes a suite of MISS from some of the oldest well-preserved sedimentary rocks in the geological record, the early Archean (ca. 3.48 Ga) Dresser Formation, Western Australia." - Nora Noffke, Daniel Christian, David Wacey, and Robert M. Hazen: "Microbially Induced Sedimentary Structures Recording an Ancient Ecosystem in the ca. 3.48 Billion-Year-Old Dresser Formation, Pilbara, Western Australia"(ASTROBIOLOGY, Volume 13 Number 12 @ 1103, 2013). Since the Earth is about 4.54 billion years old, those MISS show cosmopolitan (distributed globally) microbial community life existing about 1.06 billion years after the Earth's formation.
These communities of microbes can be far more sophisticated than we would expect (see video at bottom of Hypothesis: How Toxins of Power Are Neutralized or Removed).
And, they are far more influential than we would expect (see e.g. The Human Microbiome Congress, On The New Meaning of "Human" - 2).
As a matter of fact, regular readers know we have contemplated their influence on the governments of civilization in one series (see e.g. The Germ Theory of Government through The Germ Theory of Government - 9).
And we have contemplated the impact of the previous mass extinctions on them, from their morphing into pathogens to their becoming dormant, (like in science fiction movies where humans are put in a type of stasis), and even their conversion back from pathogens into a symbiont once again (see e.g. Are Microbes The Origin of PTSD? , Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 16, Microbial Languages: Rehabilitation of the Unseen -- 2).
Recently, we took a look at some of the microbes that have not maintained a mutualistic or symbiotic vibe through all of this mass-extinction experience.
A small percentage became pathogens with strangely brilliant capabilities beyond the capabilities of "25,000 neuroscientists standing on each other's shoulders" (The Germ Theory - of Government - 9, quoting Dr. Robert Sapolsky).
Imagine if we could rehabilitate them and have them instead do beneficial brain surgery!
The rehabilitation of pathogens has been shown to be realistic, as well as having happened multiple times in history (Microbial Languages: Rehabilitation of the Unseen -- 2).
But our warmongering cultural amygdala leads us to the hideous practice of making war with everything, including the crucial microbial world:
For a century, doctors have waged war against bacteria, using antibiotics as their weapons. But that relationship is changing as scientists become more familiar with the 100 trillion microbes that call us home — collectively known as the microbiome.(Microbial Garden). The vast majority of microbes are helpful to the point of being absolutely necessary to our existence and survival, yet we make war on them like we make war on everything.
“I would like to lose the language of warfare,” said Julie Segre, a senior investigator at the National Human Genome Research Institute. “It does a disservice to all the bacteria that have co-evolved with us and are maintaining the health of our bodies.”
This new approach to health is known as medical ecology. Rather than conducting indiscriminate slaughter, Dr. Segre and like-minded scientists want to be microbial wildlife managers.
We are too suicidal as a society and as a civilization [Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch, 2, 3].
Spread the word.
Make peace with your microbes (they like beer).