Microbe Massacre – a poem by Kate Rauner

Permian-Lystrosaurus georgi


The Great Permian Dying,
A quarter billion years ago,
Ended life’s early phase
And opened up Meso.
Nine in ten forms were gone
Earth almost lost her soul.
Not land or sea protected them;
Life slipped from her foothold.
Attacks by hostile aliens?
Or pounded by bolides?
Did flares upon the Sun explode
Or cosmic rays collide?
The villain was a microbe that
Lived peacefully for years
Till fertilized by Vulcan’s dust,
As sediments make clear.
A mindless little bug,
Bloomed down a strange
And new metabolic pathway.
So if you think you rule the world,
Have dominion over all,
Consider other kingdoms
That have survived The Fall.
Earth almost lost her skin of life
When nickel from volcanoes
Fertilized the oceans
For methane belching microbes.
Earth’s biosphere then faltered
After such a hopeful start.
Four billion years evolving
Near destroyed by bugs that fart.

Sediments suPrimena survivor Lystrosaurusggest a prime suspect. The Permian Dying made way for the cat-sized Lystrosarus… and us!