COVID-19 Side effects: Can Earth’s Environment Recover and Hit a Reset Button?

environment

The flagship environmental channel, National Geographic and the reputed fact checker, Snopes recently debunked social media claims regarding improvement in the environment like increased dolphin and swan sightings in Italy. In the meantime, this has spiked up fresh debate between environmentalists and scientists worldwide: Can the human social isolation adopted to fight against the ongoing COVID-19, do any good to revive Nature? Or is it just a temporary distraction to the underlying problem at hand, i.e the pandemic itself?

Crux of the Matter

Small Step To Giant Leap in Carbon Footprint Reduction?
The transportation sector is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. As per reports released by researchers at Columbia University (CU), emission of carbon monoxide from cars and planet heating Carbon Dioxide (CO2), has reduced by nearly 50% as compared to 2019, improving the overall environment. With schools and businesses adopting strict work from home policy worldwide, there could be a further decrease in travel carbon footprint.

An analysis by China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment suggests that there has been a 35% drop in energy usage of fossil fuels like coal, over a two week period due to less industrial activities. The Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air estimates it to be equivalent to 200 million tons of CO2. In Europe, satellite images show nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions receding in northern Italy, Spain, and the UK.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center:
The Epicentre of COVID-19’s Pollution Footprint changed in just about a month!

On the flip side, the household carbon footprint has the potential to increase. It depends mainly on weather conditions, geography and different family lifestyles followed at home. According to Jacqueline Klopp, co-director of the Center for Sustainable Urban Development at CU, “People may spend more time watching television or using appliances if they’re cooped up in their houses, increasing household’s carbon footprint.”

India Takes Deep Breaths as Air Quality Improves
Over 90 cities in the nation have recorded minimum air pollution recently during the ongoing 21 days lockdown period aimed to control COVID-19. As per figures generated by the Government-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), there has been a noteworthy drop in PM2.5 (fine particulate pollutant) by 30 percent in Delhi. In Pune, Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) pollution has reduced by 43 percent, in Mumbai, by 38 percent, and in Ahmedabad, by 50 percent.

What Has Happened in the Past?
Julia Pongratz, professor at the University of Munich, Germany, discovered that epidemics left subtle prints on atmospheric CO2 levels, by measuring tiny bubbles trapped in ancient ice cores. The list included epidemics such as the Black Death in Europe in the 14th Century and smallpox in South America. Even in the case of a financial crash of 2008-09, there was an overall dip in emissions of 1.3%. Combined emissions from manufacturing, industrial processes and construction round up to 18.4% of global anthropogenic emissions.


Growth of global carbon emissions halved during 2008-2009 recession

Challenge Yet to be Addressed: Clean Energy Plans Paused
A global recession as a result of coronavirus shutdowns could stall the shift to clean energy. If capital markets lock up, it will become difficult for companies to secure financing for planned wind and electric grid projects, and it could bomb proposals already made or new projects. Low prices could further depress electric-vehicle sales and make people less inclined toward projects like retrofitting energy-saving homes and offices.

As a matter of fact, the world’s largest share of solar panels, wind turbines, and lithium-ion batteries are produced in China. The Dragon land is already relaxing environmental supervision of companies to stimulate its economy, which means that the aforementioned 25% cut in carbon emissions could evaporate, followed by even more emissions than before. Similarly, US has a $2 trillion stimulus bill passed earlier this week and is being popularised as the largest fiscal stimulus package in modern American history. It does include direct payments to individuals and extended unemployment benefits but not relief for renewables, such as crucial tax credit extensions for solar and wind energy.

Sneak Peek to a Zero-Carbon Economy?
The world can have a promising future of coexistence of both Human Beings, natural environment and other living species including birds and animals if there is both public and political will with international cooperation. Policymakers can further move forward with their climatic plans of action while keeping the global economy stable, as stated by the European Green Deal, a new policy package that commits European Union member states to zero emissions by 2050.

On the digital front, Tech giant IBM has already launched a Call for Code Global Challenge which addresses both climate change and COVID-19 and shall involve different coding communities round the globe. With the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow planned to be derailed till the pandemic cools down, online environmental activism is parallelly being carried out. Thus not with mere words, but by actual actions, we can look forward to a greener, more sustainable future.

India doing it’s own part in bringing together willing climate patriots

Complete coverage of the Global Coronavirus effect

Curiopedia

A carbon footprint is historically defined as the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an individual, event, organization, or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent. Greenhouse gases, including the carbon-containing gases carbon dioxide and methane, can be emitted through the burning of fossil fuels, land clearance and the production and consumption of food, manufactured goods, materials, wood, roads, buildings, transportation and other services.

An individual’s, nation’s, or organization’s carbon footprint can be measured by undertaking a GHG emissions assessment, a life cycle assessment, or other calculative activities denoted as carbon accounting. More Info

2017 co2
Global emissions increased from 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 1900 to over 36 billion tonnes 115 years later.

Air pollution kills an estimated seven million people worldwide every year. WHO data shows that 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants in the environment. From smog hanging over cities to smoke inside the home, air pollution poses a major threat to health and climate. The combined effects of ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution cause about seven million premature deaths every year.80% people are affected by its unfortunate consequences, in the form of increased mortality from stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and acute respiratory infections. More Info

Pandemic Profiteering 2020: About US Senators’ Insider Trading & Chaotic Coronavirus Market

The American nonprofit organization ProPublica and US tabloid Daily Beast have reported that members of Congress sold equities after receiving briefings on the Dow Jones (DJIA) stock market dangers of COVID-19, much before the Trump administration announced it publicly. Two Senators, Richard Burr and Kelly Loeffler that came in the red limelight of insider trading, have conveniently denied the allegations.

Crux of the Matter

Public Servants by Day, Perpetrators by Night?
Senator Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee downplayed the financial threat to the American citizens while he was hastily unloading between $628,000 and $1.72m of personal holdings. Next in the row, Senator Kelly Loeffler, wife of New York Stock Exchange’s chairman, sold a substantial amount of stock while buying shares in the teleworking company Citrix.

Public Servants’ ‘Insider Edge’
Insider trading/dealing occurs when someone who has a fiduciary duty to another person, or to an institution, corporation, partnership, firm, or entity, makes a trade of stock based on information that’s not available to the general public. This can directly lead to the former’s unfair gain and the latter’s unfortunate loss. Just like in the aforementioned cases wherein Members of Congress are legally barred from buying and selling based on the information they get in classified briefings.

This practice wasn’t considered illegal at the beginning of the 20th century and a Supreme Court ruling once referred to it as a “perk” of being an executive. A whistleblower, while in conversation with a popular US Daily, once claimed that members of Congress and higher-ups in government jobs were not only trading on inside information they gleaned from their regular assignments, but were also being fed tips from agencies like the Internal Revenue Service on corporate takeovers.

Nonetheless, after feeling the negative shift in public opinion regarding the decade-old deleveraging, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) became involved and the Securities Exchange Act was passed in 1934. Section 16 of this act requires that when an “insider“, defined as all officers, directors, and 10% owners, buys the corporation’s stock and sells it within six months, all of the profits must go to the company. Additionally, they ought to disclose the changes in the ownership of their positions, including all purchases and dispositions of shares. This aims to remove major trading activities when it’s impossible for insiders to personally gain from small moves.

STOCK v/s Private Moonlighting
The STOCK (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) Act is a law that was passed during the Obama era, in 2012 and it clearly states that members of Congress and other government employees are not allowed to engage in insider trading based on information they learn through their jobs. Even the President, the Vice President, executive branch employees and judges were included in this law, making it a far stricter enforcement from the previous two trading laws.

However in 2013, it did get rid of a provision that the financial disclosures required by the law be posted online on official websites. Burr, who had opposed the bill passed for STOCK, said in his defence to this ongoing pandemic stock market wrongdoings that he relied solely on public news reports. He tried to offer alternate explanations for choosing to make money at a time when he should have been offering Americans the truth.

Can They ever be Tamed? SEC to the Rescue?

Make blind trusts mandatory for Members of Congress to end Congressional Insider Trading once and for all.

– Peter Schweizer, author of Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power by America’s Progressive Elite.

The first thing that pops in the mind now is that can these people be trusted to make laws neutrally, if they are financially invested in only the outcome of those laws? Is this simply an invitation for more corruption? After all, unethical behavior becomes especially more unacceptable in the midst of a deadly pandemic like COVID-19 that has infected more than 450,000 and killed more than 20,000 to date.

Can the eagle clear the current mess ?

SEC has officially announced the provision of conditional regulatory relief for certain publicly traded companies. The order, in an effort to address potential compliance issues, gives public companies an additional 45 days to file certain disclosure reports that would otherwise have been due between March 1 and April 30, 2020. Among other conditions, companies must provide a summary of why the relief is needed in their particular circumstances.

Stephanie Avakian and Steven Peikin, co-directors of the SEC’s division of enforcement, have urged public companies to be mindful of their disclosure controls and procedures, insider-trading prohibitions, codes of ethics and Regulation FD. This step has been rightfully taken to prevent improper dissemination and use of material non-public information.

Additionally, whistleblowers, including those who reside outside of the United States, can qualify for financial awards under the Dodd-Frank Act’s whistleblower provisions. In case they qualify SEC’s confidential filing procedures, they can file potential fraud violations to the Commission anonymously via the TCR (“tip, complaint, and referral”) form. They are even eligible for a reward once the SEC issues sanctions based on the whistleblower’s information of $1 million or more. The office says it has paid over $300 million to the anonymous tippers in the past.

Complete coverage of the Global Coronavirus effect

Curiopedia

Stock market refers to the collection of markets and exchanges where regular activities of buying, selling, and issuance of shares of publicly-held companies take place. Such financial activities are conducted through institutionalized formal exchanges or over-the-counter (OTC) marketplaces which operate under a defined set of regulations. There can be multiple stock trading venues in a country or a region which allow transactions in stocks and other forms of securities. The leading stock exchanges in the U.S. include the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Nasdaq, and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE). These leading national exchanges, along with several other exchanges operating in the country, form the stock market of the U.S. More Info

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), is a stock market index that measures the stock performance of 30 large companies listed on stock exchanges in the United States. The value of the index is the sum of the price of one share of stock for each component company divided by a factor which changes whenever one of the component stocks has a stock split or stock dividend, so as to generate a consistent value for the index. Investing in the DJIA is possible via index funds as well as via derivatives such as option contracts and futures contracts. More Info

Journey around the world in a few days – The trail of Virus and the Pandemics that follow

pandemic

COVID-19 has put a deadly stop to the normal life of all the citizens in more than 160 countries around the world. It’s about time we understand how a virus works. In order to satiate our curiosity about how a tiny infectious agent can spread like a wildfire, we ought to know what’s the story behind the global pandemics that have affected humans to date and both changes that followed temporarily and permanently in their daily lives.
Complete coverage: Coronavirus

Crux of the Matter

The ‘Viral’ Trend: How do Viruses Spread?
A virus particle or a virion consists of nucleic acid, coat of protein and lipid membrane. Unlike human cells or bacteria, viruses don’t contain the enzymes needed to carry out the chemical reactions for life. Instead, they carry only one or two enzymes that decode their genetic instructions. So, a virus must have a host cell (bacteria, plant or animal) in order to live and make more viruses.

Once they enter the desired host cell available in its nearest vicinity, they follow the lytic cycle to invade its chemical machinery. As they start attacking cells in a human body, the immune system responds to the infection, and in the process of fighting, it produces chemicals called pyrogens that cause your body temperature to increase. This fever helps you to fight the infection by slowing down the rate of viral reproduction. Generally, the body’s chemical reactions have an optimal temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius).

About Outbreaks, Epidemics and Pandemics

As an epidemiologist listening to the steady stream of conversation around the coronavirus, I’m hearing newscasters and neighbours alike mixing up three important words my colleagues and I use in our work every day.

– Rebecca S.B. Fischer, The Conversation

Outbreaks are medical events that happen at a smaller scale. If we take up an analogy, imagine an unusual spike in the number of children with a fever at a daycare. One or two sick kids might be normal in a typical week, but if 15 children in daycare come down with fever all at once, that is an outbreak. When a new disease emerges, outbreaks are more noticeable since the anticipated number of illnesses caused by that disease was zero. So the group of pneumonia cases that sprung up unexpectedly among market-goers in Wuhan, China, were considered a part of an outbreak initially before the real culprit emerged as the novel coronavirus or COVID-19.

An epidemic is an outbreak of a disease that spreads quickly and affects many individuals at the same time. It occurs when there is a sudden increase in the number of cases of a disease, in a community or a particular geographical area. Many people aren’t familiar with these epidemics unless they’re directly affecting their home region. A few of them include: The Zika Virus of continental US, Ebola virus of Africa and SARS Epidemic in Asia.


Pandemic is international and out of control. So once an epidemic spreads to multiple countries and a large number of people in different regions of the world altogether, it is considered a pandemic. However, epidemiologists classify a situation as a pandemic only once the disease is sustained in some of the newly affected regions through local transmission. Say, a sick traveler with COVID-19 who returns to the U.S. from China doesn’t make a pandemic until they start infecting family members and friends visiting him/her. Neither the CDC nor the WHO specify how many countries or how many people need to be affected in order for something to be declared a pandemic, like in the case of 1918 and 2009 Pandemics. (H1N1 Virus)

History of Past Pandemic Preparedness, Century by Century
Human society has always been subject to major pandemics and has dealt with them over the millennia in various ways including denial, misinformation carriers, quarantine measures and ultimately vaccine usage.

Take the Black Death of 1346-53. Killing over 50 million people and finishing off 60% of Europe’s entire population, it was a pandemic of bubonic plague. The disease was caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis that circulated among wild rodents which lived in a plague reservoir or focus area in insane numbers. Transmitted from these rats to humans via bites of infected fleas, it is thought to have ended because of quarantine and personal hygiene adopted by all the survivors along with the practice of cremations rather than burials.

Finally came the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919. The cause of 50 million deaths globally, the spread of the malady is linked to the trans-Atlantic deployments of American forces in the final days of World War I, and to the victorious return home of Allied forces after November 1918. If enough awareness had surfaced regarding the preparedness measures to be taken, more people wouldn’t have died due to the flu rather than the World War I’s battlefield itself. A strict maritime quarantine was imposed after the authorities could not give a uniform response.

The 1817–1824 Cholera pandemic started in India’s Ganges delta and was caused by a bacterium called Vibrio Cholerae that survived in warm and salty water. It wasn’t known outside northeast India, but the British Empire, conquering North India, opened up trade routes and the railways spread it rapidly when it got to Europe, killing millions of people with the exact number of figures remain unknown till date. Scientists believe the transmission stopped all of a sudden due to cold weather conditions.

So while cholera has largely been eradicated in developed countries now, it’s still a persistent killer in third-world countries lacking adequate sewage treatment and access to clean drinking water.

How Bad is COVID-19?
With total Novel Coronavirus death count reaching 14,927 on March 22, it still pales in comparison to other pandemics throughout recorded human history. With the world-wide lockdowns, the course of an entire generation can either be changed or this time could go down as yet another battle won in the human survival timeline.

On the fact forefront, fatality rates give a fair enough idea of how many people have actually been infected and how many have died. However people likely to have mild infections haven’t been counted by researchers, so there is a possibility of a fudged data being represented as of now. Preliminary data suggest roughly 2% of people who tested positive for the virus have died. Yet times have changed in terms of availability of modern sanitation techniques, advanced research methodologies in medicine and social media tools for instant awareness. After all, 3 and a half months after it started creating havoc, the talks of vaccine trials for COVID-19 gives a rather promising outlook to us global patriots.

If the virologists work ethically, government issues public measures of containment proactively in time and the citizens believe in taking each and every action of theirs seriously, it would help in controlling the ongoing pandemic and normalising things in our day to day life once again.

Curiopedia

A virus is a biological agent that reproduces inside the cells of living hosts. When infected by a virus, a host cell is forced to quickly produce thousands of identical copies of the original virus. Unlike most living things, viruses do not have cells that divide; new viruses are assembled in the infected host cell. But unlike still simpler infectious agents like prions, viruses contain genes, which gives them the ability to mutate and evolve. Over 4,800 species of viruses have been discovered. The origins of viruses are unclear: some may have evolved from plasmids i.e pieces of DNA that can move between cells while others may have evolved from bacteria. A virus consists of two or three parts: genes, made from either DNA or RNA, long molecules that carry genetic information and a protein coat that protects the genes. More Info

RNA v/s DNA – Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a polymeric molecule essential in various biological roles in coding, decoding, regulation and expression of genes. DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid is a long molecule that contains our unique genetic code. Both RNA and DNA are nucleic acids, and, along with lipids, proteins and carbohydrates, constitute the four major macromolecules essential for all known forms of life. Like DNA, RNA is assembled as a chain of nucleotides, but unlike DNA, RNA is found in nature as a single strand folded onto itself, rather than a paired double strand. Cellular organisms use messenger RNA (mRNA) to convey genetic information (using the nitrogenous bases of guanine, uracil, adenine, and cytosine, denoted by the letters G, U, A, and C) that directs synthesis of specific proteins. Many viruses encode their genetic information using an RNA genome. More Info

A vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease. It typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins, or one of its surface proteins. The agent stimulates the body’s immune system to recognize the agent as a threat, destroy it, and to further recognize and destroy any of the microorganisms associated with that agent that it may encounter in the future. Vaccines can be prophylactic, to prevent or ameliorate the effects of a future infection by a natural or wild pathogen, or therapeutic like the vaccines against cancer, which are being investigated. More Info

Global Recession Deja Vu?

recession

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley economists in Wall Street are predicting a second global recession in 2020 after its 2008 edition fall in economic growth. With the coronavirus pandemic shaking the stock market, bankers, companies and individual investors have started jumping in. There has been a surge in cash stock up amongst other assets like bonds and loans, to fight back against the S&P 500 plunge of nearly 12%, that is the worst one-day decline since 1987.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Stock Market Crash Says It Out Loud
Morgan Stanley’s team, led by Chetan Ahya, has predicted a worldwide recession is at its base form and its growth is expected to fall to 0.9% this year. Goldman Sachs, meanwhile has seen a slump of 1.25%. Diane Swonk, chief economist of Grant Thornton, says that “Losses are likely to equate in the thousands, with travel and tourism and manufacturing being affected, with the labor force sick or quarantined. The 3.5% unemployment rate, a 50-year low, could rise to 3.8% to 4.1%.”

COVID-19 The Main Culprit?

Over the last century, recessions have almost always been started by a sustained period of higher interest rates. Never a virus.

New York Times

Data from numerous sources show the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects: Investor confidence in the German economy has plummeted to levels last seen during the European debt crisis while U.S. retail sales fell the most in a year in February even before coronavirus containment measures began rippling through the economy.
In case of a longer lasting and more intensive coronavirus outbreak, the global economic growth could slump to 1.5%.

Who Stands To Lose In The Numbers Game?
China’s Purchasing Managers Indices (PMI) have collapsed for February – the manufacturing PMI fell to 35.7 and non-manufacturing PMI to 29.6, both well below market expectations. Suggesting a sharp fall in the first quarter growth of the country having a 17 % share of the global economy, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has cut its 2020 forecast of global economic growth from 2.9% to 2.4% – a figure that borders on a recession.

However the dragon land has managed to stealthily accumulate U.S. Treasury securities over the last few decades. As of May 2019, the Asian nation owns $1.11 trillion, or about 5%, of the $22 trillion U.S. national debt, which is more than any other foreign country.

In the other part of the world, France’s finance minister, Bruno Le Maire announced a 45 billion Euro aid package to help businesses and employees cope with the escalating health crisis.

Meanwhile Russia and Saudi Arabia, two of the world’s biggest oil producers, are entangled in a who-rings-the-bell-first race to grab market share. The former has launced an oil war against the latter by announcing that it will hike oil production 12.3 million barrels per day (mb/d) from April, and has also offered deep discounts to its buyers, potentially swamping an already oversupplied oil market.

Could India come out as a winner ?
The impact of the virus has been less in India so far compared to other geographies.
As per TV Narendran, CEO and Managing Director, Tata Steel, the de-risking of supply chains originating from China, is likely to be heightened in this outbreak.
The centre has identified 21 agricultural products, in which Indian exports could benefit from trade restrictions against Chinese goods which amounted to $5488.6 million in 2018. India exported $4,445.9 million worth of these commodities in the same period.

With the age old trade issues between US and China and now COVID-19, India can understand how over-dependency on any one country can be a reckless decision in the wrong run. The only primary problem that India might face is that it does not have a work-from-home economy and a large number of people depend on manual labour till date.

Then and Now: 2008-09 vs 2020 Recession
Since central bankers have the memories of last decade’s crash, banks are in better shape today. According to Rodgin Cohen, senior chairman of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and a top advisor to major U.S. financial firms. In 2008, banks had far less capital and liquidity than they have now.

The risk this time arises from the pandemic’s impact on the real economy and corporate growth: Drop in car, house sales and business capital spending. He adds that the liabilities are however similar since if you own a restaurant and you borrow money for the rent, you’ve still got to make the monthly payment.

NBER Says There’s Still Hope
The NBER or National Bureau of Economic Research is a widely-recognized arbiter of recession beginnings and endings. As per their observations till date, during a recession, a significant decline in economic activity spreads across the economy and can last from a few months to more than a year. The opposite happens in cases of expansion.

However within an expansion, a brief period of decline can occur, and during a recession a brief rebound might happen. Such a non-recession was the oil industry collapse in 1986. Oilmen felt a severe decline, and Texans thought they were in a recession, but other industries and other parts of the country were expanding quite nicely.

G-20 Summit To The Rescue !
The Group of Twenty (G20) leaders should rise together, like they did at the Pittsburgh G20 Summit in 2009, and form a joint plan of action to address the upcoming crisis. This should contain measures to intensify scientific cooperation to develop a vaccine and coordinated economic steps to stabilize the global economy. Fiscal stimulation can be the main tool to revive economic growth.

Curiopedia

Recession in economics is a business cycle contraction when there is a general decline in economic activity. Recessions generally occur when there is a widespread drop in spending (an adverse demand shock). This may be triggered by various events, such as a financial crisis, an external trade shock, an adverse supply shock or the bursting of an economic bubble. In the United States, it is defined as “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the market, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales”. In the United Kingdom, it is defined as a negative economic growth for two consecutive quarters. More Info

The Great Depression was the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world, lasting from 1929 to 1939. It began after the stock market crash of October 1929, which sent Wall Street into a panic and wiped out millions of investors. Over the next several years, consumer spending and investment dropped, causing steep declines in industrial output and employment as failing companies laid off workers. By 1933, when the Great Depression reached its lowest point, some 15 million Americans were unemployed and nearly half the country’s banks had failed. More Info

Inverted yield curve is when the yields on bonds with a shorter duration are higher than the yields on bonds that have a longer duration. It’s an abnormal situation that often signals an impending recession. In a normal yield curve, the short-term bills yield less than the long-term bonds. Investors expect a lower return when their money is tied up for a shorter period. They require a higher yield to give them more return on a long-term investment.
A steeply inverted yield curve that goes on long enough is like having 108° fever. Both banks and shadow lenders go upside down on their “book” and stop making loans. That can freeze the economy and make a garden-variety recession even worse.More Info

Summachar’s Coverage on the expected recession in 2019

Inverted Yield Curve

Half billion year old deep-sea social network discovered

social network of rangeomorphs


Researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford have uncovered fossilized threads that connected the first animals on Earth, known as rangeomorphs. Being popularized as a social network formation via filaments in the scientific fraternity, they were traced back to the coast of the sea in Newfoundland, Canada. The findings were reported in the reputed journal ‘Current Biology’.

Crux of the Matter

Who are These Rangeomorphs ?
Rangeomorphs are thought to be one of the earliest nonmicroscopic, fern-like animals on Earth, who spread significantly during the end of the Ediacaran period, 635 million years ago. Despite having no detectable mouths, guts, reproductive organs or means of transportation, they lived in large colonies at the bottom of the ocean.

How Did they Network?
According to a statement by the lead study author Alexander Liu, a professor at Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences, “These organisms seem to have been able to quickly colonize the seafloor via filaments, and we often see one dominant species on these fossil beds.”

The specimens appeared to be connected to each other by long, string-like filaments that ranged anywhere from a few inches to 13 feet (4 meters) in length. This connected rangeomorphs from seven different species and formed a primitive sea social network.

Is the Colony Stabilization Password-Protected for Us?
It is being speculated that the filaments may have helped stabilize colony members against strong currents and transfer resources from animal to animal. They could also be acting as tools for clonal reproduction, a type of asexual reproduction where the parent organism creates multiple identical clones of itself.

Till now, the team of scientists has found fossilized filaments connecting rangeomorphs at 38 dig sites. Since these species never moved around on their own, the fossil record includes entire colonies of the creatures preserved as they actually lived.

Curiopedia

Fossil is any preserved remains, impression, or trace of any once-living thing from a past geological age. Examples include bones, shells, exoskeletons, stone imprints of animals or microbes, objects preserved in amber, hair, petrified wood, oil, coal, and DNA remnants. The totality of fossils is known as the fossil record. The oldest fossils are around 3.48 billion years old to 4.1 billion years old. The observation in the 19th century that certain fossils were associated with certain rock strata led to the recognition of a geological timescale and the relative ages of different fossils. More Info