New York

The Joys of Fishing and Fracking

Let’s go back to a few years before we bought our cabin—390 million to be exact. It was the middle of the Devonian period, more than 150 million years before the first dinosaurs roamed. Terrestrial earth consisted of just two primary landmasses: Gondwana in the Southern Hemisphere and Laurasia to the North. The first vascular plants, including ferns and horsetails, were busy forming the world’s earliest forests.

Great seas covered the rest of the planet, and they ran thick with fish—so much so, the Devonian is also known as the “Age of Fishes.” Some of the earliest forms of sharks and rays swam with placoderms—known for the beak-like bony blades they used instead of teeth. Lobe-finned fishes abounded, too, and their descendants would crawl ashore as the precursors to the first amphibians. All are extinct now, except for the coelacanth—a Devonian holdout rediscovered alive and well during a fishing expedition off South Africa in 1938…

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