4.6 Billion Year Symphony of Evolution Volume Two Chapter Seventeen “The Evolution of the Exoskeleton”

Last chapter recap: Lin explores some strange crystals and finds the water level coming down.

Chapter Seventeen – The Evolution of the Exoskeleton

The water surface was gradually decreasing … …

The surface came closer and closer to Lin. Lin could feel the pain caused by the ultraviolate light on its ectoderm. The light of daytime was destroying its cells and damaging its slife.

Lin wanted to flee but could not find any route.

The row of enormous rocks encircled all of the crystals and trapped Lin.

Non-living things should be randomly positioned. Why had this coincidentally formed a circle? Lin had come when it was night time. In the night, Lin’s vision was limited. It hadn’t noticed the strangeness of the area at that time. Otherwise, Lin would have hesitated.

It was too late for regrets. The lowering of the water meant Lin had nowhere to go. It could only face the threat of the ultraviolet light directly.

Fortunately, Lin wasn’t completely unprepared.

Ultraviolet light. Lin only knew of this term and it could damage cells, but didn’t know what ultraviolet light was. The eye didn’t seem to be able to see the ultraviolet light. Lin thought that the ultraviolet light was a kind of light, or something carried by the light which had great damaging power. Lin only had guard against it.

Lin had seen some cells produce unique liquid or solid substances inside their bodies. These substances could reflect, deflect or interfere with light or absorb it. Those were called “color.”

While Lin didn’t understand how it formed, color was effective against the light. The green cells seemed to rely on color to absorb the power of light.

But Lin could not make green. It only had black, white, grey and a “transparent color.” In Lin’s tests, it found that “white” was the best at reflecting light.

Under Lin’s direction, the ectodermal cells slowly turned white. Lin could feel the pain on the ectoderm decrease. Lin then quickly repaired the damage on the ectoderm and had them all become covered in a layer of white.

At the same time, Lin created a white shell around the eyeball antenna at the top. This way, the eyeball could continue to observe but not be wounded by light. 1

After these changes, the light seemed unable to harm Lin’s ectoderm. However, the water was still lowering. Without the protection of water, even if Lin turned white, the ultraviolet light might be able to destroy Lin’s ectoderm eventually.

Right now, Lin could only swim above a crack in the rocks. If the water level reached a certain level, Lin would open a passage under the mothership and have the cells and devourers inside swim into the cracks to avoid the danger.

The protector’s outer shell meant it was unaffected. Lin desired to evolve a hard shell even more.

Lin’s large hammer were made from hardened cells. They were completely different than the hard- shell not made from cells. Lin hoped to make a composite substance like this, hard and thick, and not made from cells.

Lin had studied some organisms with shells. It found that the shells of these organisms varied in their hardness, but they were made from similar materials. This was a powder or liquid secreted by cells called “gland cells.” When the gland cells secreted the substance in such large amounts they covered the ectoderm, they would form all kind of hard shells.

The water was still decreasing. Lin could feel that pain called “burning” slowly return. As the water surface grew closer, the light’s impact on Lin increased. Lin prepared to have the troops and cells inside the mothership flee.

However, the water stopped when it was a small distance away from the mothership.

Was it safe?

Lin didn’t dare to relax. It didn’t know if the water would rise or fall next. It quickly started its next step, evolving “gland cells.”

Lin did not have difficulties making gland cells. The problem was the substance inside the gland cells. What kind of substance could the cells secret, and then become a strong hard shell on the outside over the ectoderm.

Maybe the answer was in the food cells usually ate.

Since this was a substance not made from cells, then this substance should have been obtained from food. Maybe the “white gel” Lin ate before had substance that could create hard shells before.

Of course, it didn’t have to be the white gel. Lin had seen other organisms eat all kinds of things such as the scum on the sand beach, the powder on the rocks. Maybe they held the key to creating hard shells.

Lin made an opening on the underside of the mothership and released large numbers of exploding balls. It had the cells search among the rock cracks for similar substances. After consuming those substances, Lin would try to have the cells dissolve these materials in their bodies, and then cover their outside membrane with the material.

Lin could only wait now. As long as the water didn’t continue to lower, Lin would soon create hard shells.

In reality, Lin should have tried to make hard shells long ago. But because it hadn’t encountered a situation and the power of the hammer was enough to defend itself, Lin hadn’t made any hard shells before.

The exploding balls moved through the black cracks in the rock. Lin had some small devourers follow them. When the exploding balls saw suitable materials, they would swallow the materials and try to dissolve them in their bodies. After reconstituting the material, the exploding balls would turn them into suitable shapes and cover their bodies.

Lin didn’t know the details of the process inside the cells. However, the cells would act on their own. Lin only had to give them thoughts to act.

The exploding balls found a great deal of materials inside the rock’s cracks that appeared as though they could be made into shells. Black sticky substance, scum that fell down from the rocks. The exploding balls’ dissolving fluid could dissolve the great majority of the sand granules and rock fragments, but after successful dissolving, Lin found the cells could not put them back together again.

Because the sand and fragments were made of different materials, some materials would destroy the completeness and possibility of the recombination.

Lin called the substances that damaged the completeness “impurities” which had to be eliminated. This was an extremely troublesome process as Lin’s cells did not understand the thought “eliminate impurities” well. Lin had to control the process by itself.

Lin’s thoughts could control a cell perfectly from the nucleus to the membrane. However, it had never tried to directly control the synthesis system of the cell. Therefore, this was a long and complex process.

The synthesis system inside the cell was a complex thing. Also, there was no vision inside the cell. Lin couldn’t observe what was happening inside, but it had “senses” that were like the sense of “touch”. If Lin needed to, it could experience the “touch” of the different materials the inner structures of the cell was touching.

Relying on this wondrous ability, Lin conducted its work of removing impurities.

Lin believed it would succeed.

Just as Lin tried to remove impurities, some unwelcome guests appeared in the surrounding water. These flat organisms appeared in large numbers in this region of water and quickly swam through the water. They fed on the wild cells and small organisms that had been killed by the ultraviolet light on the rocks.

Lin found these flat worms were slightly different than the ones it had fed on before. Each flat worm had a layer of sand covering. They appeared to have secreted a sticky substance on their surface so the sand would stick to them to block the ultraviolet light.

So they hadn’t been fleeing previously, they hid in the sand and then come back?

Because there were many cracks in the enormous rock trapping Lin, the flat worms could burrow in.

The flat worm’s mouth was suited to eating all kinds of cells, including the exploding balls in the cracks.

Lin had the exploding balls work to remove impurities. If it succeeded, the exploding balls would be able to remove impurities on their own in the future.

But this was a slow process, and the flat worms already swam around Lin’s mothership. They burrowed into the cracks of the rock and started to hunt and kill Lin’s exploding balls!

Lin sent out injectors. Only the injectors’ siphon could catch up to these speedy flat worms.

Once the injectors’s needle struck their target, the flat worms would be filled with large numbers of multipliers. For the small flat worm’s this was a fatal attack.

The flat worm’s used their nimble bodies to doge the injectors because the injectors had difficulty turning when they were charging. Lin should give them tentacles to control their swimming direction … … but it didn’t have the spare time right now!

When the battle in the rock started, Lin also sped up its work on removing impurities. It had already separated the different materials inside the exploding balls. It almost … .. success!

Lin successfully removed the useless impurities from the exploding balls and the rest of the materials successfully synthesized together. Lin had the exploding ball secret the substance from its membrane and successfully created a thin outer shell.

Now, it sent its successful information to every exploding ball. Now all of Lin’s exploding balls had this ability to dissolve and form shell armor!

At this time, Lin once again felt the burning pain. It found the water surface had lowered considerably once again.

 

Translator Ramblings: I couldn’t find a nice short video on chitin so … … pictures.

Chitin (Wikipedia)

Exoskeleton of male louse. (CDC/Janice Carr)

0016 | Table of Contents | 0018


  1.   If you block light in one direction, it is usually blocked in the other… Also the material Lin is purifying is likely calcium carbonate, a key component in the production of chitin. 
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