That there, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call a Species-Scape, a graphical depiction of the relative diversity of species among various taxonomic groups on earth, where the relative size of each representative organism drawn is roughly proportional to the number of known species in that group (thus accurately depicting the creator’s inordinate fondness for beetles!). Here’s another version. The above image is flash-based, so go ahead and click on the different taxa for an informational blurb, or (if your eyes are as tired as mine) visit the larger original info-graphic on Cornell’s cool Beetle Science website for more fun stuff.
Our own puny little species, so full of itself, is part of that tiny little Elephant lurking under those big mushrooms in the middle of the picture. And think about how many kinds of organisms there are that we haven’t even discovered and catalogued yet! We mammals are only going to shrink in that picture relative to everything else!! Does that give you some pause, some sense of perspective, as you go about your important business?
Reminds me of a camping trip I went on, in Rajaji National Park, about a decade ago when I last visited my alma mater. My friend Charu and I were lying under a clear sky on a warm night, listening to the sounds of the nocturnal creatures around Dholkhand, and gazing in open wonder at the milky way shimmering above us, when I couldn’t help but let my inner stargazer come out. As is wont to happen under such circs, I felt compelled to share my limited knowledge of the night sky, the stars, the constellations, and the milky way, etc.! After a while I remember him telling me to shut up or he wouldn’t be able to sleep – for I was going on about how far everything was, and how long the light from some patch of sky had travelled to reach the earth! Imagine the vastness of the universe and how puny we are, I said. And it totally freaked him out!!
Kinda like stepping into Douglas Adams’ clever invention, the Total Perspective Vortex, which the above Species-Scape also brings to mind. And speaking of which, wouldn’t you know it? Someone on the dang internets (and from my other alma mater too, if you can believe it!) has gone and implemented it in Flash. Go on, take a deep breath, and dive into the Vortex, which awaits you below the fold! Find out if you really do you have Zaphod Beeblebrox’s cojones! I dare you… click on “OK” of you are up to the challenge:
And don’t tell me I didn’t warn you, as you try to duck from those repeated blows in the latter half of the above video – it does get a bit heavy!