by Gerard 't Hooft

When toxic materials saturate the soils, oceans and atmosphere, when oceans become acid and the oxygen contents of the air drops to dangerously low levels, humanity will decide to leave. In new habitats on the Moon and in outer space, humans will enjoy the unprecedented luxury of low or vanishing gravity. By that time, most of the earth's surface has turned into desert. But life is stubborn. The polluticum will not last forever. Helped by smart genetic engeneers, plants find new ways to reconquer the desert. This happens as follows. The Woestijnpijpleidingboompjes develop a unique root system. Indeed, most of these plants stays burrowed deeply below the surface. Their roots reach far down into water vains, or find their way to distant rivers. When sprouts do emerge above the soil, they first develop sharp thorns to avoid being eaten by thirsty animals, and only very high up you will find the leaves, needed for photosynthesis. The plants procreate sexually when different root systems meet underground. Eventually, they manage to redistribute water all over the desert, and they create dense, shady forests. Rain returns to these regions, and finally many plants and animals thrive, not unlike what happens today near coral reeves.

Flying fish are admirable creatures. They managed to conquer the skies directly from the water, unlike the birds, which evolved slowly from reptiles, having ample opportunity to practice flying by dropping from low tree branches while flapping their paws. Fish had to leave the water under much more difficult circumstances. Bravo. now they have a great future. The hummingbird fish (Dactylopter minimus) plays an important role in pollinating the Vishoningroosje. Flying soles (Vliegende schollen, Limania mysteriosa) were sometimes mistaken for UFO's (vliegende schotels).

These fish, however, have one thing in common with birds and flying mammals: they use wings to fly. Of course, this implies a limitation: they'll never be able to leave the earth's atmosphere.

To leave the atmosphere, what is needed is a reaction engine. It is not so well-known among the public, but reaction engines already exist in Nature: the squids. Squids possess a propulsion siphon, which, when emptied rapidly, gives the animal a sudden momentum, in a direction unexpected by its enemies (it also uses the siphon for discharging ink). What a great future must there be ahead of them! all they need to do in order to reach the next level in evolution, is to collect chemical explosives. This is not a hard thing to do in the Polluticum. Once they learn how to ignite these explosives, the propulsive power of squids will be great enough to leave the water and join the flying fish. See the picture here of Sepia Explosiva.
Sepia will be able to make excursions into the stratosphere. It will need a thorough revision of its breathing system, holding its air for hours, but this is nothing new. Under water, whales, seal and dolphins can also hold their breath for long periods of time. Squids will learn how to go into Earth orbit.

Eventually and inevitably, squids will land on the Moon. The first one, the Moonsquid, Antennapes Charliebrown, will be wellcomed by television crews. Humans, after all, conquered the Moon much earlier. But, needless to say, this is only the beginning of the Extraterrestrazoicum.
Perhaps it starts millennia from now!


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