Thursday December 12, 2019
Home Lead Story Significance ...

Significance Of Magellan’s Voyage After 500 Years

500 Years on, How Magellan's Voyage Changed the World

0
//
Magellan's voyage
Replica of Magellan's ship. Pixabay

Ferdinand Magellan set off from Spain 500 years ago on an epoch-making voyage to sail all the way around the globe for the first time.

The Portuguese explorer was killed by islanders in the Philippines two years into the adventure, leaving Spaniard Juan Sebastian Elcano to complete the three-year trip. But it is Magellan’s name that is forever associated with the voyage.

“Magellan is still an inspiration 500 years on,” said Fabien Cousteau, a French filmmaker and underwater explorer like his grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

“He was a pioneer at a time when explorers who went off into the unknown had a strong habit of not coming back.”

Magellan's voyage
Magellan is still an inspiration, 500 years on. The history remembers him through statues and monuments till date. Pixabay

Here are five ways in which Magellan’s voyage marked human history and continues to inspire scientists and explorers today.

Some of them spoke to AFP at a conference in Lisbon to mark the August 10 fifth centenary.

Historical

Magellan’s voyage was a turning point in history, as unique as the first manned journey into outer space and the later moon landings, said NASA scientist Alan Stern, leader of its New Horizons interplanetary space probe.

“When the first one circled the plant, (that) sort of meant that we now had our arms around the planet for the first time,” he said.

“That just transformed humanity in my view. I would call it the first planetary event, in the same way, that Yuri Gagarin was the first off-planetary event” when the Soviet cosmonaut went into outer space.

Geographical

Magellan’s voyage rewrote the maps and geography books. He was the first to discover the strait, which now bears his name, linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans at the tip of South America.

“Perhaps his greatest feat, and still considered today one of the greatest feats of the history of navigation, was negotiating this strait, of which there were no maps and whose existence was vaguely rumoured,” said US historian Laurence Bergreen, author of a biography of Magellan.

Also Read: Brazil Rainforest Deforestation Jumps 67% in First Seven Months as Government Attacks Data

Philosophical

The voyage transformed humans’ own conception of their place in the world.

“It wasn’t just geography and anthropology, it showed something philosophical: that it’s all one world,” said Bergreen.

“Before Magellan people didn’t really know that. They didn’t know how the world was connected or how big it was.”

Magellan's voyage
Magellan’s carrack replica from the 16th century. VOA

Astronomical

The voyage contributed to Europeans’ knowledge of the universe and has marked the worlds of space exploration and astronomy to this day.

While crossing the Magellan Strait, the explorer and his crew observed two galaxies visible to the naked eye from the southern hemisphere, now known as the Magellanic Clouds.

Some recently-designated areas of the surface of Mars have been given the same names that Magellan gave to parts of South America, with Bergreen’s help. A giant telescope being developed in Chile will also bear the explorer’s name.

Inspirational

Magellan’s achievement was a landmark in the history of exploration still hailed by his modern-day successors.

“In the space program, to prepare for these long-duration missions, we say ‘the lessons for the future are written in the past’,” said Dafydd Williams, a former NASA astronaut, now 65, who went on two space missions. (VOA)

 

Next Story

Fossil Discovery Points to ‘Origin of Modern World’ after Dinosaur Extinction

The fossils, described by scientists Thursday, date from the first million years after the calamity and show that the surviving terrestrial mammalian

0
Fossil, Discovery, World
Four fossilized mammal skulls collected from the Corral Bluffs site in Colorado, dating from the aftermath of the mass extinction of species 66 million years ago, are left to right, Loxolophus, Carsioptychus, Taeniolabis, Eoconodon, Oct. 24, 2019. VOA

A revelatory cache of fossils dug up in central Colorado details as never before the rise of mammals from the post-apocalyptic landscape after an asteroid smacked Earth 66 million years ago and annihilated three-quarters of all species including the dinosaurs. Discovery.

The fossils, described by scientists Thursday, date from the first million years after the calamity and show that the surviving terrestrial mammalian and plant lineages rebounded with aplomb. Mammals, after 150 million years of subservience, attained dominance. Plant life diversified impressively.

With dinosaurs no longer eating them, mammals made quick evolutionary strides, assuming new forms and lifestyles and taking over ecological niches vacated by extinct competitors.

Within 700,000 years of the mass extinction, their body mass had become 100 times bigger than the mammals living immediately after the mass extinction.

Fossil, Discovery, World
A scenic vista shows Corral Bluffs, near Denver, Colo., in a picture released Oct. 24, 2019. VOA

“Were it not for the asteroid, humans would never have evolved,” said Ian Miller, curator of paleobotany and director of earth and space sciences at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

“One message I would like people to take from this is that their earliest ancestors — and by ancestors we’re talking fuzzy little squirrel-like critters — had their origins in the wake of the extinction of the dinosaurs.”

How the modern world emerged

The thousands of well-preserved animal and plant fossils, unearthed just east of Colorado Springs, illuminate a time interval that had been shrouded in mystery.

Also Read- Young Thais Battle Seniority Culture for Urgent Action on Climate Change

“Essentially, we were able to tease out details of the emergence of the modern world — the age of mammals — from the ashes of the age of the dinosaurs,” Miller said.

Sixteen mammal species were discovered, with skulls and other bones fossilized after being buried in rivers and floodplains. Until now, only tiny mammal fossil fragments from that time had been discovered.

“For the first time, we were able link together time, fossil plants, fossil animals and temperature in one of the most critical intervals of Earth’s history,” said Tyler Lyson, the museum’s curator of vertebrate paleontology and lead author of the research published in the journal Science.

The asteroid strike, which ended the Cretaceous Period and opened the Paleogene Period, laid waste to the world, eradicating the dinosaurs except their bird descendants, seagoing reptiles that dominated the oceans, and important marine invertebrates and numerous plant species.

Fossil, Discovery, World
Fossilized mammal skull fossils and lower jaw retrieved from the Corral Bluffs site in Colorado dating from the aftermath of the mass extinction of species 66 million years ago is seen in a picture released Oct. 24, 2019. VOA

Plant life also was hit hard by the global environmental catastrophe that followed the crash of the six-mile-wide (10-km) asteroid off Mexico’s coast, with new forms evolving in the aftermath. The earliest-known legumes — bean pods — were among the Colorado fossils.

Evolutionary events set in motion by the mass extinction led much later to the appearance of the primate lineage that includes monkeys, apes and eventually, roughly 300,000 years ago, the appearance of our species Homo sapiens.

Shadow of the dinosaurs

Mammals had lived in the large shadow of the dinosaurs, never getting bigger than a small dog until the mass extinction.

Also Read- Chuck Schumer Proposes $454 Billion Plan to Help Shift away from Gasoline-Powered Cars to Cleaner Vehicles

The mammals that survived the asteroid were mainly small omnivores — the largest being the size of a rat and weighing about a pound (0.5 kg).

Within 100,000 years of the extinction event, mammals reached about 13 pounds (6 kg). By 300,000 years after the extinction, they got to 55 pounds (25 kg), with the first purely herbivorous mammalian species. By 700,000 years after the asteroid, some mammals weighed more than 110 pounds (50 kg).

“When the dinosaurs go extinct, mammals proliferate, and fast,” Miller said, for the first time becoming the top predators and herbivores on the landscape.

The largest mammal among the Colorado fossils was wolf-sized Eoconodon, followed by Taeniolabis, the size of a capybara. The largest predators were 5-foot-long (1.5 meters) crocodilians, with blunt teeth useful for cracking turtle shells rather than gobbling mammals.

Egg-shaped rocks called concretions that over time formed concentrically around some kind of nucleus — in this case mammal skulls — provided a bonanza. Most of the 16 mammal species belonged to a diverse group called “archaic ungulates” related to modern-day hoofed mammals like deer, cows and pigs. The plant fossils included pollen, leaf impressions and petrified wood.

The mass extinction was the second worst on record, exceeded by one 252 million years ago thought to have been caused by extreme volcanism, that helped pave the way for the first dinosaurs.

“Mass extinctions,” Lyson said, “are the biologic reset button.” (VOA)