April 22 marks Earth Day 2019 – the anniversary of a modern environmental movement that started in 1970 with the intention of raising awareness about climate change, alarming population growth on the planet and calling for immediate action.

In honor of this year’s Earth Day, Google created an interactive doodle that introduced people to different birds and animals that were unique and special, through a series of animated slides. “This year's annual Earth Day Doodle takes us around the planet we call home to discover some of the awe-inspiring organisms which inhabit it. Specifically, the interactive slideshow Doodle explores six organisms across elevations—along with their earthly superlative!” a Google Doodle blogpost stated.

Animals like wandering albatross (having the widest wingspan of any bird), coastal redwood (tallest tree in the world), Paedophryne amauensis (smallest frog, and smallest vertebrate), Amazon water lily (one of the largest aquatic plants), coelacanth (one of the world’s oldest living species) and deep cave springtail (one of deepest-dwelling terrestrial creatures) formed the subject matter of the doodle.

The doodle was designed by artist Kevin Laughlin, who opened up about how he went about selecting specific species for creating the interactive art.

“This was the most difficult part of the process! The last thing I wanted to do was feature animals based on their cuteness or how they might appeal in some way to my mammalian sensibilities. We tried to focus on having a good range of organisms from around the globe that all had an extra special unique quality or earthly superlative. [Tallest, smallest, oldest, etc.]” he said.

He also hoped that his artwork inspired “smallest bit of curiosity or wonder in someone” causing that person to take a “moment to contemplate a tiny critter that lives in the bowels of a cave in Georgia.” “All life is incredible and worth celebrating,” he added.

Here are some facts about Earth Day:

1. American marine biologist Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller “Silent Spring” sold 500,000 copies in 24 countries in 1962 – a time when people did not give pollution a second thought and “environment” was reduced to just a word that appeared in spelling bee competitions. “The book represented a watershed moment… beginning to raise public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and links between pollution and public health,” according to Earth Day Network’s website.

2. In the wake of the aftermath of an oil spill in California in 1969, former Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-WI), inspired by the energetic anti-war movement of the time, turned the emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution into a national political agenda. After he enlisted support from both sides of the political spectrum, he founded the Earth Day.

Earth Day
This photo of Earth was captured by NOAA's GOES-East satellite. NASA/NOAA/GOES Project

3. The date April 22 was strategically selected by Nelson and his team, as it fell right between Spring Break and Final Exams in colleges. Nelson’s team, led by Denis Hayes, then a graduate student at Harvard University, realized the importance of college students and the youth of the country playing a central role in the environmental movement, just like they did in the Vietnam protests of the era.

4. Although the movement is still observed as Earth Day in the United States, it is celebrated as International Mother Earth Day in many other countries, after being officially designated so by the United Nations in 2009.

5. The theme of 2019 Earth Day is “Protect Our Species” with goals like educating people about the “accelerating rate of extinction of millions of species,” getting policies approved that “protect broad groups of species as well as individual species and their habitats”, building “global movement that embraces nature and its values” and urging people to act, including “adopting plant based diet and stopping pesticide and herbicide use.”