Terre et Vie : des histoires imbriquées

Jean-Claude GALL

fr Comptes Rendus Palevol 8 (2-3) - Pages 105-117

Published on 30 April 2009

This article is a part of the thematic issue Evolutionary history of Life

Earth and Life: Imbricated histories

The Earth's history consists in recurrent flashbacks of similar events and scenarios: redistribution of continents, orogenic cycles, glaciations, marine transgressions and regressions, etc. In contrast, Life's history evolves according to a succession of stages: prokaryotic stage, eukaryotic cell stage, pluricellular organism stage, terrestrialization, development of animal societies, hominization. With each successive stage the biosphere rises to a higher level of organization and complexity. This evolution results from the natural trend of living organisms to extend their control over the entire planet while they progressively escape the constraints of the aquatic environments and climates. During the last four billion years close and complex interactions prevailed between the history of both the Earth and Life. Living organisms have a profound effect on their environment and on the processes of the Earth dynamics, while the planetary environment controls the evolution of living species. Nevertheless, from time to time, the fragile equilibrium established between Earth's and Life's dynamics breaks down and triggers mass extinctions. It is presently the case of the increasing impact of human activities on the integrity of our planet, a major challenge for humankind during the 21st century.


Biosphere, Global change, Mass extinctions, Climatic changes, Humankind impact on Earth environment

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