The First Organism to Sprout Legs and Walk On Land to His Family Back in the Swamp, 390,000,000 B.C.E., a Tuesday

He got tired of all the ooze.

Hey guys!

How’s it going down there? I hope this letter makes it to you okay. I tried to use the most waterproof hard thing I could find (I guess I’ll call it a “rock?”) to write on. I know it’s tough to read underwater since there’s no bright thing in blue thing, but maybe let Uncle Walter glow close to the rock so you can make out the words.

So, since I left you last week, things have been really good. On Tuesday, I took shelter from the wet stuff from the blue thing that was grey that time under a rock. Rocks are really terrific! I also use a rock to sleep on. If you’re having trouble picturing what it’s like out here, just picture a lot of rocks.

I’ve been looking around for some friends—haven’t found any yet, but I still have hope! I thought I saw some prints in the mud that showed where another animal had been walking, but they turned out to just be holes from where some rocks had been. I’ve never seen walking rocks, but there are just so many up here that anything’s possible!

Um…what else? Hum hum hum… It’s weird because it seems like so much is happening! But when you sit down to write about it, it’s hard to put it all in words.

Okay, let’s see. Yesterday morning, I ate some grass. It’s just like the grass underwater except less…watery. Then I saw a rock that looked like a giantmonsterfish. I freaked out for a minute, but then I had to laugh at myself. No giantmonsterfish here! (Speaking of which, remind Patty not to swim near the anemones, okay?) Then for lunch, more grass. I took a nap on a rock. I thought about mating, but haven’t found anything to mate with yet. I tried to mate with the rock. I don’t think it worked. Dinner was grass. Then I slept on a brand new rock, in case the first rock was offended.

I can’t wait for everyone to visit! Be careful though. There’s a lot less of that clearish, liquidy stuff we’re used to breathing. Actually, I have no idea how I’m even breathing right now! Okay, I have to go check out this green and brown stringy thing that’s stuck in the ground (can you believe they have a ground here? So posh!). Maybe I can mate with it. I’ll call it a “plont” or a “plint” I think. Can’t wait to hear back!

Love,

Hal

Paleontologists working in western China discovered a rock bearing the letter above inside what would have been the stomach of a Ptychodus Giantmonsterfish, an ancient shark that could crush armored shells in its teeth. Apparently, they also ate small families of proto-Amphibians as a sort of proto-palate cleanser before moving on to the main course.

This discovery threw some evolutionary biologists for a loop, since writing was not assumed to have arisen until the early Mesozoic Era, while this rock was dated conclusively to the middle Devonian, a full 130 million years earlier. The discovery of  a cache of similar letters in Canada in 2007 has corroborated this conclusion, though the early dinosaurs are still credited with the development and use of the first ballpoint pens.

Life would soon have become more difficult for the early land-dwellers than this letter implies. It was not long before mosquitoes the size of small aircraft and fast moving lizards with chemical weapon-strength venom were hunting these hapless rock-maters. On top of that, unsophisticated political systems failed to protect vulnerable amphibians from exploitation by the emerging reptile ruling classes. They did, however, develop some defenses over time, and Marx described the evolution of the Frog as “the first blow of the proletariat against the reptile-bourgeois.” The species of this letter was not so lucky, and died out only a few million years after moving permanently to dry land. Their close relative, the Hipsterpicus Arcadefirenom, survived much longer by moving back into the water, after determining dry land had become totally lame now that everyone was into it, and that water had a charming retro appeal.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “The First Organism to Sprout Legs and Walk On Land to His Family Back in the Swamp, 390,000,000 B.C.E., a Tuesday

  1. Rebecca

    It’s amazing how we haven’t really developed much in millions of years: I totally feel the same way — it DOES feel like so much is happening, but then it IS so hard to write it down.

  2. Ha, this was my favorite post so far.

    “If you’re having trouble picturing what it’s like out here, just picture a lot of rocks.”

  3. Laura

    You learn something new everyday. I had no idea dinosaurs created ballpoint pens.

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