Excerpt from 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' by Bill Bryson
Young Adult (18-35)
British (England - South East - Oxford, Sussex)
British (Received Pronunciation - RP, BBC)
Note: Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and may contain errors.
The average species on Earth lasts for only about four million years. If you wish to be around for four billion years, like human beings, you need to be as fickle as the atoms that made you. You must be prepared to change everything about yourself, size, shape, colour, species, affiliation everything and do so repeatedly. That's much easier said than done, because the process of change is random to get from protoplasm, a primordial atomic globule, as Gilbert and Sullivan put it to sentient, upright, modern human has required you to mutate new traits in a precisely timely manner over and over again for an exceedingly long while. For various periods over the last 3.8 billion years, you have a board oxygen and then doted on it. Grown fins and limbs and jaunty sales laid eggs flicked the air with a forked tongue. Being sleek, being furry, lived on the ground, lived in trees, being as big as a deer and as small as a mouse and a million things more the tiniest deviation from any of these evolutionary shifts. And you could now be picking algae off cave walls or lolling walrus like on some stony shore or disgorging air from a blow hole in the top of your head before diving 60 ft for a mouthful of delicious sand worms. Not only have you been lucky enough to be attached since time immemorial to a favoured evolutionary line, but you have also been extremely make that miraculously fortunate in your personal ancestry. Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time older than the Earth's mountains, rivers and oceans, every one of your forebears on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate healthy enough to reproduce and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck, fast, untimely, wounded or otherwise deflected from its life's quest to deliver a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner, at the right moment, in order to perpetuate the only sequence of hereditary combinations that could result, eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly, in you.
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