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万物简史(MP3+中英字幕) 第491期:多灾多难的生命进程(11)

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But come we did, though reaching our present state of eminence has not of course always been straightforward. Since life on land began, it has consisted of four megadynasties, as they are sometimes called. The first consisted of primitive, plodding but sometimes fairly hefty amphibians and reptiles. The best-known animal of this age was the Dimetrodon, a sail-backed creature that is commonly confused with dinosaurs (including, I note, in a picture caption in the Carl Sagan book Comet). The Dimetrodon was in fact a synapsid. So, once upon a time, were we. Synapsids were one of the four main divisions of early reptilian life, the others being anapsids, euryapsids, and diapsids. The names simply refer to the number and location of small holes to be found in the sides of their owners' skulls. Synapsids had one hole in their lower temples; diapsids had two; euryapsids had a single hole higher up.

但是,我们毕竟还是来了,虽然达到我们目前这样的卓越状态肯定不总是一帆风顺的。自从陆地上开始有生命以来,它由4个所谓的大王朝组成。第一个大王朝包括行动缓慢的有时候又相当笨重的原始两栖动物和爬行动物。这个年代最著名的动物是异齿龙,那是一种背部有翼的动物,常常与恐龙相混淆(我注意到,包括卡尔·萨根《彗星》一书中的一处图片说明在内)。异齿龙实际上是一种下孔亚纲动物。我们从前曾经也是下孔亚纲动物。下孔亚纲是早期爬行动物的4个主要部之一,其他3个部分别是缺孔亚纲、调孔亚纲和双孔亚纲。这些名字只是指在它们的颅骨侧面发现的小孔的数量和位置。下孔亚纲在颞颥下部有1个孔;双孔亚纲有2个孔;调孔亚纲只有上部1个孔。
异齿龙

Over time, each of these principal groupings split into further subdivisions, of which some prospered and some faltered. Anapsids gave rise to the turtles, which for a time, perhaps a touch improbably, appeared poised to predominate as the planet's most advanced and deadly species, before an evolutionary lurch let them settle for durability rather than dominance. The synapsids divided into four streams, only one of which survived beyond the Permian. Happily, that was the stream we belonged to, and it evolved into a family of protomammals known as therapsids. These formed Megadynasty 2.

届时,每个主要的部又分成若干分部。其中有的兴旺,有的衰落。缺孔亚纲产生了鳖。鳖一度似乎快要处于主宰地位,成为这个星球上最先进、最致命的物种,虽然这有点儿荒唐可笑。但是,由于进化比较缓慢,它们保持了长久的生存地位,而不是统治地位。下孔亚纲分成四支,只有一支闯过了二叠纪。幸运的是,我们恰好属于这一支。它进化成为一个原始哺乳动物家族,被称之为兽孔目爬行动物。这类爬行动物构成了第二大王朝。

重点单词   查看全部解释    
predominate [pri'dɔmineit]

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v. 占优势,支配,统治

 
planet ['plænit]

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n. 行星

 
caption ['kæpʃən]

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n. 说明文字
v. 给(图片、照片等)加说明

联想记忆
stream [stri:m]

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n. (人,车,气)流,水流,组
v. 流动,

 
comet ['kɔmit]

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n. 慧星

 
poised [pɔizd]

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adj. 泰然自若的,镇定的;摆好姿势不动的,静止的;平

 
reptilian [rep'tiliən]

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adj. 爬虫类的,卑下的

 
confused [kən'fju:zd]

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adj. 困惑的;混乱的;糊涂的 v. 困惑(confu

 
split [split]

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n. 劈开,裂片,裂口
adj. 分散的

 
species ['spi:ʃiz]

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n. (单复同)物种,种类

 

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