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Find out how we deliver our mission through horticulture exhibits, arts and culture programmes, community initiatives and education work.
Since life began there has been an unbroken chain from the very first living things all the way to you. Join us as we explore Earth's Story.
How did this once lifeless rock end up full of life?
For the first three billion years or so most living things were simple, single-celled organisms. Eventually, some began to cluster together to form multicellular organisms. In these new multicellular systems, some structures began to specialise for different functions: some in respiration, some in waste secretion, and some in locomotion. This was the beginning of complex life. There was no going back from this; the Pandora’s Box of biological creativity had been opened and the dizzying complexity, diversity and beauty of biological life we see around us today is the result.
“Since life began there has been an unbroken chain from the very first living things all the way to you.”
Every snail, every daisy, every flea and every monkey has a shared ancestry – all are cousins to some degree. Even more remarkably, by looking at fossil, genetic, physiological, and geographical evidence we can accurately piece together these familial relationships.
We’re more closely related to a gorilla than a wolf because we share a common ancestor more recently with the gorilla (9 million years ago) than the wolf (96 million years ago). In turn, we’re more closely related to the wolf than a tortoise (with which we share a common ancestor 311 million years ago), a spider (796 million years ago), or a banana plant (1,495 million years ago).
“Scientific observations from many different disciplines all converge on an uneasy truth. We are living in the eye of a new planetary storm, a sixth mass extinction.”
Slowly, too, we are losing our obsession with tidying up and instead learning to leave space for nature to thrive. As I’ve driven around Cornwall this spring I’ve been thrilled that so many road verges have been left uncut and are bursting with wildflowers. Here at Eden, our own verges have been transformed.
As we enter what’s increasingly feeling like the middle age of the Internet, I’m optimistic the renaissance of our time isn’t digital but ecological and instead leads to the large-scale restoration of nature.