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Google's Earth Day doodle reflects planet's complexity

To mark the 43rd Earth Day, Google produces one of its busiest -- but still subtle -- animated doodles, depicting our planet's ever-changing landscape.

Google's Earth Day doodle begins at spring.

Google is marking Earth Day 2013 on Monday with what might be its busiest animated doodle yet. In fact, its level of involvement led Google to create a checklist to ensure you don't miss anything.

Highlighting the Earth's complexity on the 43rd Earth Day, the doodle offers a snapshot of the four seasons our fragile planet experiences, as well as some of its flora and fauna.

"Today we are celebrating Earth Day with an interactive doodle that captures a slice of nature's subtle wonders," doodler Leon Hong wrote. "We hope you enjoy discovering animals, controlling the weather, and observing the seasons."

Typically quite easy to identify, Google's name in the doodle is hidden among the landscape. What appears to be a lazy circle of flowers makes up the G, two caves make up the O's, while a stream leads into the second G and closing E. A lonely tree that represents the L grows taller with the changing seasons while the meandering stream drips off the edge of the doodle as if from a flat Earth.

Clicking on the Sun/start button over the mountains sets the landscape and seasons in motion. The sun will set, replaced by the light of the rotating moon. In fact, the doodle presents us with all phases of the moon: full, half, crescent, and gibbous.

Google's Earth Day in winter. Google

And with each dawn, we are presented with another season, beginning in spring and cycling into summer, fall, and winter before its eventual return to spring, where, like on terra firma, the cycle repeats itself.

Like many previous doodles, the Earth Day doodle is interactive. Clicking on the clouds will produce snow in the winter and rain in the other seasons. Mousing over the logo will produce a gentle breeze that obliterates the G before nature allows it to regenerate.

The doodle also has its share of resident wildlife that users can interact with: birds inhabit the sky, fish swim in the lake, a bear resides in a cave, ants scurry near the G flowers, and fireflies appear at night after a gentle rain.

Here is Google's complete list of doodle inhabitants: