Ancient Life

Ediacaran ancient life form Dickinsonia CostataThe history of ancient life on Earth is written in its oldest rocks.  Paleontologists, detectives who track the ancient denizens of that early world, continue to gather fossil evidence of the earliest multicellular life, the Ediacara.

These mysterious creatures preceded the famous Cambrian explosion that began 541 million years ago.

The Cambrian, abundant with the fossils from the ancient ocean sediments, including the Burgess Shale in Canada, justifiably captures the popular spotlight.

Trilobite from the Devonian
This little devil, a Devonian trilobite, was armed with an as-yet unexplained trident. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Almost everyone has seen a trilobite, an animal that appeared in the Cambrian and roamed the ancient seas for 270 million years, right up to the Permian-Triassic extinction, the so-called “Great Dying” 252 million years ago.

Of course, even kids know the names of dinosaurs, which came to rule the Earth after the Great Dying until only 66 million years ago.

Ediacaran life has attracted much less celebrity

Beginning in the 1950s, a few fossils began to tell of complex animals that were not even supposed to exist prior to the Cambrian.

This pre-Cambrian time, the Ediacaran period, between 575 and 542 million years ago, followed the Marinoan glaciation or “Snowball Earth,” a period when the entire surface of our planet was frozen solid.

Not that long ago, the Cambrian was considered the boundary before which no multicellular life existed.  That’s all changed.

Simple one-celled life appeared on Earth about a billion years after the planet formed 4.5 billion years ago, a time punctuated by massive meteor bombardments, including a whopping collision with a Mars-sized planet that sent molten rock into space to form our Moon.

Ancient life may have originated at hot geothermal vents
White smokers at the Champagne vent, Northwest Eifuku volcano, Marianas Trench Marine National Monument Photo Credit: NOAA

Life Begins

Within less than a billion years life appeared. Life on Earth may have gotten its start near deep-sea geothermal vents, still the home of extremeophile bacteria and the animals that feed on them.

Whatever process led to the emergence of life, soon single-celled plants began converting the Earth’s carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbohydrates, the stuff you sprinkle on your cereal.

The first oxygen was consumed by iron dissolved in the oceans which became iron oxide or rust, laid down as rich ore deposits later used to make your car.

ancient iron deposits
Dissolved iron in the oceans, which “rusted” when oxygen became plentiful, was deposited as banded ironstones.

The conversion of a carbon-dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere into oxygen may seem like a good thing to mammals like us.  But carbon dioxide traps heat much better than does oxygen.  Simple plants made too much of a good thing!  Oxygen cooled the Earth.

Our planet froze into a Snowball Earth.  Several times.

Why did ancient single-celled life dominate Earth for so long?

Appearing “only” a billion years after the Earth formed, single celled life took more than three billion years to begin forming more complex multicullular life forms during the Ediacaran Period about 600 million years ago.  See time line below.

Notice how quickly simple life appears 4 billion years ago, at the end of meteor bombardment of Earth. Yet, it takes a full 3 billion years and longer for animals to finally appear.  Then, in less than a billion years, animals conquer the Earth, with vertebrate animals only making land in about the last third of a billion, and mammals like humans showing up very, very late to the party.

Geologic Clock of Earth Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Ancient life took its sweet time to go from single cells, around 4 billion years ago, to more complex multicellular plants and animals, during the Ediacaran period, about 45 million years before the Cambrian. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Some scientists think that low oxygen levels in the oceans 1.8 to .8 billion years ago kept life simple. Others believe that Snowball Earths caused, ironically, by plentiful oxygen in the atmosphere, delayed the appearance of complex life. However, some paleontologists continue to push back the time of the first animals. perhaps even before the last “Snowball Earth.”  In any case, the Cambrian is no longer the first word in multicellular animal life.

Ediacaran Ancient Life Finally Gets Some Respect

These ancient critters now have their own explosion, the Avalon Explosion, a rapid increase in the diversity of Ediacara body forms that preceded the Cambrian Explosion by 33 million years.  If 33 million years doesn’t sound like much, it’s a quarter the length of the dinosaurs’ reign and half as long as the Cenozoic, the Age of Mammals.

A Sample Collection of Ediacaran Life Forms

Unless noted all photo credits:  Wikipedia

Dickinsonia

Ediacaran ancient life form Dickinsonia Costata

Dickinsonia grew as big as bath mats and apparently lay flat on the sea bottom, possibly grazing on microbial mats.  The segments of the soft-bodied Dickinsonia have been described as liquid-filled chambers, something like an air mattress. First discovered by Reg Sprigg in 1946 in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia, apparently while eating his lunch, Ediacaran fossils were described in a paper submitted to, and rejected by, the journal Nature.

Charnia

Charnia an ediacara

Charnia was first discovered in 1957 in rocks in Charnwood Forest in central England by Tina Negus, a 15-year-old schoolgirl, but her geography schoolteacher ruled out the possibility of Precambrian fossils.

Later, a schoolboy Roger Mason, who later became a geologist, brought the fossils to the attention of scientists.  Charnia lived attached to the sea bottom, too deep for sunlight to allow photosynthesis, suggesting that they absorbed nutrients directly from the seawater.

 CharniodiscusCharniodiscus arboreus

Also first discovered in Charnwood Forest, Charniodiscus was first discovered as only the circular base or holdfast that anchored the stalk and frond to the sandy sea floor. Similar to Charnia, the frond structure is different, although the source of nutrition for this an Ediacaran fossil was presumably similar. Two Charniodiscus forms have been found, one with a short stalk and fat frond, the other with a long stalk that held the frond 20 inches above the sea bottom.

Eoandromeda 

Eoandromeda and Ediacaron fossil

Eoandromeda has eight radial spiral arms, spiraling either clockwise or counterclockwise.  A few dozen fossils are known, ranging from 1 to 4 cm in diameter.  This specimen from Australia has longer, more tightly coiled arms compared to Chinese Eoandrommeda. Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/groups/complex_life/

 

Spriggina_flounensi_C

Spriggina

Named for Ron Sprigg, this segmented Edicaran organism reached about 3-5 cm in length and may have been a predator. Two rows of tough interlocking plates cover the bottom, while one row covers its top.  Its front segments are fused to form a head, which may have borne eyes and antennae.

These are but a sample of a growing collection of Ediacaran organisms.  Below is an artist’s conception of an Ediacaran garden

Ediacarans National Museum of History, Smithsonian Institution

The Ediacara appear to have become extinct before the celebrated hustle and bustle of the Cambrian.  Some suggest they are a “failed experiment” that left no descendents.  As objects of scientific study the Ediacara are an active field with a growing list of Ediacaran genera.

Here’s how the Earth’s continents changed from Ediacaran times.

Scientific Picture Book of the Ediacarans

Highly rated, with foreword by Arthur C. Clarke, The Rise of Animals by five respected authors is considered the best account of Ediacaran life.  Organized by fossil location, the book includes an Atlas of Ediacaran paleontology.

Take a Peek

Even if you are just curious, the “Look Inside” button at Amazon offers a generous sampling of the Ediacaran “zoo,” with fossil photos and interpretations of how these strange organisms lived.

Disneyland Bans Children Under 14 Alone, Disney World, California Adventure, too

Photo of California Adventure

Disneyland, Disney World, and California Adventure will ban lone kids under 14 beginning on March 23, 2013.

Previously children of various ages were allowed in the Disney parks unaccompanied by an older person.

The policy will not be enforced based on government-issued identification cards, which youngsters under 14 may not have.  Instead, Disney employees will approach those who look young, and if the children are under 14, they will contact a parent or guardian, according to the Orange County Register.

The new policy for all Disney parks will be the same for Disneyland, Walt Disney World, California Adventure, which previously admitted solo children of varying ages.  

Children visiting any Disney park must be accompanied by someone 14 or older.

A Disneyland spokesperson said that the new rule followed a survey of guests and various child welfare organizations, and that age 14 is the minimum age recommended by the American Red Cross. 

The Orange County Register reported on March 15 that the Disneyland spokesperson said that the policy was not triggered by any specific issue with unaccompanied children in a park.

However, the policy comes within a week of the drowning death of a 13-year-old swimmer in a pool at Disney’s Pop Century Resort on the grounds of Walt Disney World, according to the U.K. Daily Mail and other news organizations.

The boy from Springfield, Missouri, was swimming at about 9:00 pm, March 10, in the hotel pool with a group of children including his little brother and a cousin. The tragedy was discussed on Dizboards. com beginning on Sunday, March 10 and the later drowning death on Tuesday, March 12 was reported by the Orlando Sentinel.  

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Sample Product Review

Best Sample Product Review shows Photo of Las Vegas McDonalds

A trustworthy product review helps serious customers compare benefits, gain confidence, and BUY the product they really want.

As a reviewer or affiliate marketer, you want to feed that customer a useful product review, and serve it up fast.

Below you will find a quick “fill in the blanks” template to write the perfect product review.

But first some principles in writing a well structured product review.

The Best Product Reviews Sell Benefits

A customer cares less about features than product benefits. A good product review should tell how the product is going to improve the customer’s life, not necessarily how many megabits or horsepower foot pounds per square inch or the biography of the inventor.

Connect the dots; list the features as they relate to benefits. For example, “aluminum alloy engine” is a feature. “Aluminum alloy engine lowers weight, reduces fatigue, speeds up your hedge trimming, and gets you back to drinking beer and lounging” explains feature benefits. See the difference?

Product review “pros” quickly list the benefits

Quickly inform the potential customer of what’s attractive about the product.  What are the product pros? Find out!  Read the online product reviews from satisfied customers.  How does the product solve a problem or make life better?  How does the product improve on previous designs?  Is the product easy to use?  Does it save money?  How is the product superior to its competitors?  Does it correct a competing product’s weakness (no radioactive waste, no ring around the tub, does not irritate my baby’s eyes)?  List the benefits with bullets.

Give the customer confidence

Ever hear of “buyer’s remorse”?  The customer fears that they might buy a “lemon” or get a bad deal.  Yes, customers want deals!  The motivated customer really wants to buy and is doing due diligence. Your job is to assure them that they will not kick themselves later over either the quality or the price.   Your product review “pros” should offer solid reasons why the customer will not regret the purchase.

Motivated customers want to know the product “Cons”

As mentioned, a shopper ready to buy is doing due diligence.  Is there any reason that the  customer might not be completely satisfied?  Here is where the true product reviewer gains trust.  Read the negative on-line reviews.  Is there a known dissatisfaction with the product? Mention it. This should not be a fatal flaw.  If it were, why the heck are you promoting the product?

After bringing up a product review “con” the reviewer needs to offer the customer  a remedy or work-around – a reason the con is not a serious obstacle.  A review of an excellent product might acknowledge a higher price.  Follow up with an explanation that quality costs more due to the benefits of longevity, better performance, or reliable factory service. Or the audio device may not come with headphones, but most people already have headphones with a standard mini-plug. Not a problem.

If the product “con” is a real inadequacy but comes with a price break, explain to the customer that he or she could buy a more expensive version, but may be better served by saving money. Check out the very bottom of this article on high-priced kitchen tools that offers a super cheap alternative orange peeler. You may land the motivated customer just looking to peel oranges, not keep up the the Joneses.

The Con Is as Important to a Buyer as the Pros

If you can find a minor fault that the customer can live with, you will give them reason to feel that they have accomplished their goal of kicking the tires.  The customer has discharged their responsibility of caveat emptor, “let the buyer beware,” and can relax.  The customer may be tired of shopping and can now put down their guard and, you hope, their hard-earned money.  Remember: cons = confidence.

Go Out on a Limb

Make a recommendation.  If you have personally used and sincerely like the product (which are my favorites to review), tell the customer.  Relate a personal favorite based on the benefits or features. Have you tried competing products? Mention that you have tried others and why this one appeals to you. Here’s how I pitched my favorite aircraft cable key ring resulting in several Amazon purchases every month.

If you have done your homework, and read the on-line customer reviews, even if you don’t own the product, you should be confident that you have beat the bushes and found the very best product and best value that you can personally recommend to YOUR customer.  If you can’t, I recommend that you not review the product.

Product Review Pass Off

Your work as a product reviewer is done. Now is the time for the Call to Action, when you ask your customer to click a button to be passed off to the closer, the site where they will buy.    Make the button to buy the last possible avenue.  This may include a link to on-line product reviews (which you should have checked, because a serious buyer will always want those, especially for a big ticket item).

Below is a sample product review, including some SEO advice

Stick to the script, fill in the blanks and watch your perfect product review emerge.

Product Review Template

(KEYWORD PHRASE, example: “Best Hand Vacuum” )

Brief introduction (2-3 sentences)

Features at a Glance: In bullet list form.

  • Steel and carbon fiber design holds up under rugged use
  • Five hand grips reduce fatigue
  • No dangerous fumes to harm pets

Pros: In bullet list form, at least 3

  • Easy to use
  • Low cost
  • Used by professionals

Cons:
PICK A MINOR FAULT AND HAVE A REMEDY FOR IT AND INCLUDE VARIANT OF KEYWORD PHRASE
Note: this area may describe a deluxe version or accessory that offers the remedy

(The pros and cons can be rewritten from the information on the page or from customer reviews. Do not copy…. rewrite)

Our Opinion:

PARAGRAPH 1 WITH KEYWORD IN IT

PARAGRAPH 2 WITH Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), words (keyword synonyms and related terms, for example, for keyword “hand vacuum,” LSIs might be “dust, lint, dust buster, handheld vacuum etc.”

PARAGRAPH 3

PARAGRAPH 4 IF NEEDED

Where to buy
Click Here To Buy: LINK TO PRODUCT

Click Here Read Reviews: LINK TO REVIEWS

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
On average customers go for between 250 to 500 words but you can make it as short or as long as you want.

So there’s your handy dandy product review template.  Select and paste the text when you start your next product review.  BTW, interested in  the code to put the color box?  Use this code: <div style=”padding:12px;background-color:#HEX HERE;line-height:1.4;”>
TEXT HERE
</div>

FYI, the article box above uses the color #f79f81 to replace “#HEX HERE”  I was shopping recently and apparently f79f81 is really “in” this year for shoes.  Moderately hideous if you ask me.

Are You an Amazon Affiliate with limited time to write product reviews?

Trick question!  We all have limited time. Amazon lets your customer go straight to reviews and product comparisons. Like this Eazy Azon product “info block” below.

I personally use Easy Azon, a WordPress plugin that has paid back its price many times over in time that it has saved me.  Easy Azon lets you find Amazon products and, with one click, insert photo linkd, calls to action, and info blocks like the one above.

Click below to learn more about how Easy Azon can tap your international Amazon customers, speed up writing product reviews, and accelerate your Amazon affiliate marketing right here in the USA.Sample Product Review picture of down arrow

Sample Product Review bullseye image for Easy Azon