Science has come a long way. It wasn’t always a methodical process of understanding the natural world around us. In fact, in many places, science involves a lot of supernatural explanations. Ancient mythology is essentially the explanation of natural phenomenon, and more often than not, this included using supernatural explanations. Thunder and lightning are easily explained away as Zeus being upset and hurling lightning down to Earth. Different regions of the world explained phenomenon in different ways involving gods and other supernatural beings.
In North America, the Zuni people are found in New Mexico. Their culture includes jewelry made of silver and turquoise. Like other cultures, they have a story of creation that explains the world in which they live. Their story includes a number of visuals that can be interpreted as facets of science that we better understand now. However, the emphasis and descriptions placed on them shows that the Zuni understood the importance of these things, even if they did not fully understand them.
In this story, Áwonawílona, the Maker and Container of All, made himself into the Sun Father. The mist clouds formed into the Great Waters, where Earth Mother, Áwitelin Tsíta, formed. As the Earth Mother was emerging from the water, a silky green substance covered her like a gown. This substance began to float over the surface of the oceans and rock crevices but clung to the Earth Mother like a living cloak.
It is clear that this green cloak that Earth Mother wears is algae, with the green color coming from the chlorophyll that all plants contain and allows photosynthesis to proceed and create oxygen from sunlight. We know that algae was one of the first forms of life on Earth. It formed in the oceans and immediately began to create oxygen into the atmosphere. When the oxygen levels reached an acceptable level, the atmosphere was able to sustain life on land.
This story is of creation and continues on to tell the story of how animals came to be. But this particular section that discusses the emergence of the Earth Mother and her gown of green captures one of the most important parts of the evolution of Earth’s environment by discussing the green algae that is found not only in the oceans, but in nearly every biome on Earth. Green algae can be found on the sides of trees in the forests and have even been found living in symbiosis with fungus as green liches hanging from trees or clinging to rocks.