Where Have we come from? Where are we going?

7. The Passion of Animals

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Passion. What could be more intimate to our lives? 

Our passions determine so much of our lives. They are the wild, explosive energies of all of love and creativity. Such desire resides at the very center of life.

With fish, the female deposits her eggs, and the male later fertilizes them. There's no contact between them. 100 million years later, when the lizards have evolved out of their fish and amphibian ancestors, the passion to merge has deepened considerably. With mammals and birds passions reach yet a new crescendo. Not only are they able to co-mingle as one body, they can become so profoundly bounded that they remain in relationship their entire adult lives.

We are not just similar to animals, we have been shaped by them. Our passions come from vertebrate evolution. Even our compassion can be understood as an expansion of what took place 100s of millions of years ago in the ocean with the early fish. Biologist speculate that mutations led to a mother fish who scared away predators from her babies. This behavior was new at that time. What was more common with fish back then was a mother who ate her young.

With the emergence of the fishes decedents, mammals and birds, maternal care broadened. Now the offspring were not just protected from predators, but were nourished directly by their mother. This care even included transmission of survival information as a group. In some cases, this required years of training. We see then the caring behavior among vertebrates expanding 500 million years before the emergence of homo sapiens. Early humans intuited this deepening compassion and celebrated it with images of the divine feminine.

Learn more with our podcast on The Passion of Animals with Scott Sampson here.

Scott Sampson, President, Science World, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Discover the compelling story of Earth’s fossil record. What were the ecosystems of dinosaurs? How did humans co-evolve with other species? What are mass extinctions?

The Passion of AnimalsStream PodcastWatch on Amazon

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The featured conversations on this page are from the Journey of the Universe Conversation Series, formerly titled "Education Series" The twenty-part series is available for purchase in a 4-DVD set.

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