Presenting the Greatest Story of Reality Ever Told.
Evolution-Involution Slideshow A Flash pictorial presentation of our past lives with glimpses of a few of the concurrent perils and mass extinctions we had to survive at various stages of our evolution on Earth. The story continues for even more billions of years before Earth was formed as prebiotic substance slowly formed from elements arising from the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. The slideshow is a Flash production with full-sized images and is designed so that a viewer can first pause each image with captions to digest the information- then run the slideshow as a seamless involution (with captions turned off) for a contemplative experience.
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See also -
Big Bang Involution Contemplation Original presentation as album of smallscale-only images with captions with optional slideshow.
Additional resources for further reading at phylogeny slideshow references
Because the story is largely based on interpretation of evidence from ongoing discoveries in anthropology, paleontology, gene sequencing and cosmology it is in a continual state of evolution and controversy. Uncertainties do not end there because the philosophy of science is just starting to take up the challenge of integrating quantum theory and consciousness that effect our view of the observable material universe and a reality beyond the Big Bang.
The infinitesimal steps we have taken to begin to understand the story of evolution is an epic so vastly more complex than the Biblical story of Genesis, I needed images to capture our spiritual imagination at the level of Michelangelo's most famous work of the Creation of Man along with the entire body of renaissance art that effectively brought the dramatic stories of the Bible into belief of their literal reality. This process continues in today's multi-media environment and sustains belief in Adam and Eve over evolution by the majority of Americans.
Details from a mural by Viktor Deak and Reuben Negron for the exhibition - Lucy's Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia, at the Houston Museum Of Natural Science, Houston Texas. Australopithicus afarensis ("Lucy") is depicted holding her baby in center of lower panel. (This detail is presented as a mirror image of the original, consistent with the involution perspective of our slideshow.)
closeup mural details and here photos by Trish Mayo Read more
I found such contemporary classical masterworks in the superbly realistic work of Karen Carr- some of which are even on a scale of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel- rendered in murals installed on the walls at the Royal Teyrrell museum in Toronto, Chicago''s Field Museum and the New Mexico Field Museum. On an equally grand scale are the masterful murals painted at the Smithsonian National Musum of Natural History by John Gurche and Jay H. Matternes. Gurche is also one of the formost 3D reconstructionists of extinct hominids along with Viktor Deak; and Elisabeth Daynès whose work bring to life iconic stages in our human phylogeny in museum exhibits worldwide. Matternes's illustration of Australopithecus ramidus, popularly known as "Ardi", is probably the most appropriated of all paleo art on the Internet, primarily in articles about human origins. A series of inspiring murals on a similar grand scale has recently been created by William Stout for the San Diego Natural History Museum.
These featured artists along with others whose work help power our imagination in contemplating the grandeur of our true origins, have been appropriated here (with the hope I can obtain their official permission) for our purpose - to provide a sensory experience that has the persuasive impact to advance the evolutionary paradigm comparable to that which all the religious works of art had in advancing belief in the reality of their various orthodoxies.
Artists Please Note: Some of the full-sized images that will be viewable in the Flash slideshow have watermarks removed. This is because any text on the images is a profound distraction for the contemplative experience. Explicit attribution is provided for each image with an active link in the captioning, in their listing in this page and in the Phylogeny Slideshow References page. Every effort has been made to mitigate primary system downloading. All rights are reserved by individual artists and I am in the process of asking artists for permission to use their images for non-profit, educational purposes- to advance the Evolution-Creation Paradigm.
I've drawn on the talent of other exceptional contempory artists who have particular passion for paleo art. In alphabetical order: Mauricio Antón; Cristóbal Aparicio Barragán; Daniel D. Brown, Ph.D.; Carl Buell; Giovanni Caselli; Julius T. Csotonyi; Stanton F. Fink; Jon Hughes & Russ Gooday; Adrie and Alfons Kennis; Mark A. Klingler; Raúl Martin John Sibbick; Nobu Tamura; and Keiji Terakoshi.
Equally dramatic are the works of illustrators of cosmological scenes such as Lynette Cook of Gemini Observatory and of subatomic stuctures like Keith Beardmore and of space art like Don Davis and
I also feature the legacy of two paleo artist now deceased. The 19th century illustrations of Ernst Haekel (1834-1919) published in his 100 Plates of KUNSTFORMEN DER NATUR (Artforms of Nature) in 1904 and the dramatic fineart paintings by Czechoslovakian paleo artist Zdenĕk Burian (1905-1981).
I wanted to include a work by America's first fine-paleoartist, Charles R. Knight. Although he focused on dinosaurs, his most famous painting (La Brea Tarpits) depicts megafauna that prehistoric humans in America had to contend with. All three created images that are enduring treasures.
In the captions- some of the illustrations are simply attributed to the website where they were found because so far I have been unable to identify the artist due to the unfortunate regularity for websites to appropriate graphics without even the courtesy of attribution.
The hope is that the contemplative experience can provide a unique past lives experience- an involutionary imagining of the reality of the incomparable magnificences of the process of our origins- from prebiotic substances coalescing from the Big Bang to the excruciatingly slow evolution of billion of years to our first multicellular organisms. At every stage our ancestors were in constant competition with ever-present fearsome contemporary predators yet continually evolving as pre chordata and finally the relentless progress to the many variations of early primates. Evolution! ...the momentous process that- in the face of cataclysms in Earth's upheavals and mass extinctions- against all odds has allowed our species to survive the grim statistic in which more than 99 percent of all species that have ever lived became extinct. Yet as with each kind that has had its time to flourish- our destiny is still uncertain. We can only hope that the singularity that has fine-tuned our universe with constants that allowed for life to arise has gifted us with the will to finally manage the unsustainable impact our species has fostered on our planet over the past two hundred years to avoid the sixth mass extinction that may already have begun. (It is estimated that since the Phanerozoic 500 Mya, fossil remains of less than 7% of species that existed during any given period have been recovered. Given the reality that less than five percent of extant insects have been identified (much less described) and an even smaller percentage of micro-animalcules- that estimate for known extinct organisms may be wildly optimistic.)
"Ten billion bacteria live in a gram of ordinary soil...they represent thousands of species, almost none of which are known to science." [O.E. Wilson, Naturalist, 1984]
The Cosmos Wakes Up Zen Buddhist teacher David Loy asks: "Is evolution the universe waking up to itself?" It was a 14-billion year journey from simple hydrogen to Mahatma Gandhi. Religions tend to deny or ignore evolution, but what happens if instead they embrace it and make it central to their message? For Buddhists, the relevant question is what the teachings on impermanence and insubstantiality imply about the Big Bang and evolutionary development.
The project itself is an amateur effort to present an intimate synopsis of our phylogeny and origins. No image represents our exact ancestor but is only an approximation of what we resembled before evolving towards our future. Some images simply picture concurrent cousins or predators or cataclysmic events in our environment that we at the time survived.
This slideshow is planned as a lifelong work in progress with its anatomy and captioning in stages of continual updating.
There is an obvious ontological implication in how I present the Evolution-Involution Slideshow that suggests that our consensus reality is an ongoing evolution of scientific and metaphysical knowledge that tends towards a future synthesis. I explore the present state of this effort at Theosophical Synthesis encouraged that the process seems to be outpacing our biological evolution.
Cosmic Phoenix - infinite universes evolving - involving
Credit: Exper - Giovanni Rubaltelli
Big Bang Ghost? Science & Tech, 2012 Does this picture show the 'ghost' of a universe that existed before the Big Bang? Renowned scientist Professor Roger Penrose from Oxford University has spotted evidence that a universe may have existed before the Big Bang. Penrose says concentric circles discovered in the background microwaves of the universe provides evidence of events that took place before the universe came into being. This supports a cosmological theory of a cyclic universe- a feature in the creation cosmography of the Vedanta tradition.
Update 05 03 10: Halfway through the process of assembling graphics to illustrate the phylogeny/contemplation slide show I stumbled upon the book by Professor Richard Dawkins entitled The Ancestor's Tale. See Google Books
Publisher''s Review: The Ancestor's Tale is a pilgrimage: a journey of four billion years. We, modern human beings, are the pilgrims, and we are travelling back in time to seek out our ancestors. Simultaneously every other living creature - animal, plant, fungus, bacterium - is setting off on its own journey with the same mission. As we travel down the path of time, we meet up with other bands of pilgrims with whom we share a common ancestor.
Onwards we go, squeezing precariously through mass extinctions, meeting increasingly distant common ancestors. Eventually we pass that fundamental turning point for life on Earth, the combining of a single-celled protozoan-to-be with a bacterium to form a cell with a nucleus. Once we have done so, all living things take the final stretch of the pilgrimage together to the origin of life.
This is the majestic narrative that holds together this remarkable book. Yet the chronicle of the journey is itself an envelope for the collection of tales told by the pilgrims. These tales cover the processes involved in the unfolding of life on Earth. Enormously rich and diverse, they incorporate the results of recent research which uses the study of DNA to give some startling insights into evolutionary history. The fundamental unifying principle of evolution underlies every tale, and binds them together into this unique history - our history, and that of all living things.
Central to this book is the tracing of our ancestors and our connections with other living creatures. The Ancestor's Tale shows us how remarkable we are, how astonishing our history, and how intimate our relationship with the rest of the living world.
Professor Richard Dawkins is a world-renowned evolutionary biologist and author. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and holds the Charles Simonyi Chair of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. His first book, The Selfish Gene (1976), was an instant international bestseller, and has become an established classic work of modern evolutionary biology. The Blind Watchmaker (1986), too has become world-famous. His other works for the general public, every one highly successful, include River Out of Eden (1995), Climbing Mount Improbable (1996) and Unweaving the Rainbow (1998). A collection of his writings. A Devil's Chaplain, was published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in February 2003.
Note: In the following review of Dawkins' book, it should be noted that in the debate between Darwinian evolution and creationism, Dawkins is famously known as Atheism's rottweiler and his primary antagonist, Professor Behe, argues as a trained scientist rather than from a religious perspective.
A Review of The Ancestor's Tale (2004): A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution by Richard Dawkins by Michael J. Behe (2005) Michael J. Behe is a Professor of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Behe's first criticism in his review is with Dawkins' running the course of evolution backwards (as in the evo/invo slideshow). He continues with: "The second major defect of the book is that, other than a dust jacket photo of the author, it has no high quality, color photographs. Even the driest biology textbook these days includes plenty of spectacular photos and illustrations, which often can entice reluctant students into reading the text. Yet The Ancestor's Tale grudges only the occasional, tiny, black and white photo or graph to accompany the discussion. This really is unforgivable, because it works against the whole purpose of Dawkins' book - to evoke wonder at life. One figure legend touting "rustling rivers of green" refers to a black and white photo of leaf cutter ants. It's hard to even puzzle out what's going on in some pictures, such as those of the upside-down catfish (looked at from any angle) or Heron Island (what is that thing? a cell? a kidney?). The poor photos make it impossible to share Dawkins' rapture over Venus's girdle or the leafy sea dragon - they're splotches of ink. Although Dawkins' prose beats textbook writing by a mile, the texts win hands down on illustrations. All in all, then, I'd recommend a high school biology textbook over The Ancestor's Tale, because great pictures of life can more than compensate for stodgy prose."
For a well-illustrated college-level introduction to biology text, see: Biology: The Dynamic Science Volume 2 by Peter J. Russell, et al, 20011
I hesitate to make any claim of synchronicity other than both Dawkins' book and the phylogeny/involution slide show uniquely trace our phylogeny backwards in time rather than the alternative convention of presenting its evolution from a variety of origins of life. Due to the depth and breadth of Professor Dawkins' erudite scientific knowledge there is no comparison between his profoundly epic tale and my superficial production yet I suspect that our disparate levels - one profound and logical - the other simplistic and extending into metaphysics - can work synergistically to expand our conscious re-experiencing of "evolution/creation" than either resource provides alone.
My first priority has been to complete the first draft of the Evolution-Involution Slideshow as a Flash presentation and this was completed (11 09 10). Professor Dawkins book will certainly be a major reference for refining and updating all the ordering and captioning.
Additional resources for further reading at phylogeny slideshow references
Update 02 15 2012: Evolution - 1 Minute Slideshow
An animated gif featuring graphic hyperlinks in the evolution of our human phylogeny from the origin of life on Earth.
1. Archaea and Bacteria (Archaean and earlier 3.8 bya)
2. Eukaryotes (Proterozoic 2.5 bya)
3. tunicate larvae (Ediacaran 555 mya - chordata)
4. lancelet (Cambrian 553 mya - chordata invertebrate)
5. pikaia (Precambrian 550 mya - hemichordate invertebrate)
6. conodonts (Ordovician 450 mya - euchordata)
I've taken the liberty of ordering conodonts preceeding haikouichthys as it seems they would resemble a missing link in the fossil record between pikaia and
7. haikouichthys (Late Cambrian 520 mya - vertebrate)
8. Cephalaspis (Devonian 400 mya - vertebrate)
9. Tetrapod Evolution top: pederpes (Early Carboniferous 350 mya - early tetrapod); middle: hynerpeton (Late Devonian 360 mya - basal tetrapod); bottom: panerichthys (Devonian 397 mya - pre-tetrapod)
10. early amphibian (Carboniferous 340 mya - true amphibian)
11. Hylonomus lyelli (Carboniferous 300 mya - early reptile)
Artwork: John Sibbick http://www.johnsibbick.com/
12. varanops (Early Permian 270 mya - varanopid synapsid)
13. Dvinia prima (Later Permian 256 mya - Therapsida)
14. Hadrocodium wui (Jurassic 200 mya- proto mammal - lived almost 200 million years ago and is one of the closest known relatives to living mammals. It's ancestors survived Triassic/Jurassic extinction event
15. Carpolestes simpsoni (late Paleocene 58 mya - primitive primate)
16. tarsierfoss (40 mya - primate)
17. procounsul (Miocene 23 mya - primate)
18. chimpanzee (Middle Pleistocene 8 mya - great apes)
19. Australopithecus afarensis (3.9 mya - Homo lineage?)
20. Image in Slideshow: left: Homo heidelbergensis (.6 mya) middle: Homo ergaster (erectus in Africa) (1.6 mya) right: Australopithecus sediba (1.98 mya - Homo lineage?)
21. Homo sapien (200 kya - modern human)
More: Timeline of Evolution Major episodes from life's origin 3.8 billion years ago.