A Walk Through Time

Fruits Of Earth

30 Million Years Ago

Grasslands and trees with fruits spread. Mammals help pollinate and fertilize as they graze and swallow delicious fruits.

Earth grows cooler and more seasonal. Although extinction overtakes those animals requiring steamy tropical climates, this is largely a period of relative stability — a moment of evolutionary rest.

Top: Nitrogen, an element crucial for DNA, RNA and protein syntheses, is critical for all life-forms. Grasslands and grazers spread, unmindful of their dependence upon the microcosm in Gaian cycling of nitrogen. (Illustration by Jan Sovak)

Bottom: Bacterial metabolic mastery is shown once more in this cyano's facility for fixing nitrogen. Although abundant in Earth's atmosphere, paired nitrogen atoms are loath to separate. Breaking the bond for transformation into useable form is accomplished only by lightning and bacteria. (Photograph by Stjepko Golubic)

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