Category Archives: Life on Earth

Bananas have died out once before – don’t let it happen again

You probably take bananas for granted. In the United Kingdom, one in four pieces of fruit consumed is a banana and, on average, each Briton eats 10 kg of bananas per year; in the United States, that’s 12 kg, or up to 100 bananas. When I ask people, most seem to think bananas grow on trees. But they don’t, in either the literal or the figurative sense: in fact, they’re in danger of extinction.
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Dinosaur-killer Asteroid Triggered a Global Warming which lasted 100,000 Years

Around 66 million years ago, an asteroid or comet at least 10 kilometers (6 miles) in diameter impacted a few miles from the present-day town of Chicxulub in Mexico (hence it is dubbed as the “Chicxulub impactor”), at around 64,000 kilometers per hour (40,000 mph). The impact has created a crater (Chicxulub crater) more than 180 km (110 miles) in diameter. But, what’s more, the energy of the impact (which is equivalent of about ten billion Hiroshima atom bombs) vaporized the rock which was rich in sulfur compounds, filling the air with a thick cloud of dust, similar to that created by a catastrophic volcanic eruption. This cloud blocked out the sun at least for a decade and caused a global, dark winter: even in the tropics the temperatures were barely above freezing, and the average global temperature was below 0°C (32°F). Before the impact, the average global temperature was around 26°C (47°F), so this means a huge drop. And the recovery time was more than 30 years! The dinosaurs which had dominated the Earth for more than 150 million years were used to living in a lush climate and were already in decline, so non-avian dinosaurs couldn’t survive after the last deadly blow.
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What’s the Difference Between a Meteoroid, a Meteor, a Meteorite, an Asteroid, and a Comet?

Hint: they are all space rocks. But, there are some differences. The biggest difference between an asteroid and a comet, for example, is what they are made of.
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Most species hold their geographic range if we limit global warming to 1.5°C, study says

If we limit global warming to 1.5°C rather than 2°C above the pre-industrial levels by the year 2100, the impacts of climate change would be much less dramatic, a new study says. According to the researchers, for vertebrates and plants, the number of species losing more than half their geographic range by 2100 will be halved when warming is limited to 1.5°C, compared with projected losses at 2°C. It would be even better for insects, the most diverse group of animals on Earth: the number is reduced by two-thirds.
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Endangered animals more likely to get donated if they’re cute, study says

43% of Americans would be more likely to donate to an endangered species if it were cute, according to a study titled “Selective Sympathy: Comparing Sentiment Toward the Appearance of Endangered Species” published by African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). A team at AWF has surveyed 1k Americans on how much they know about wildlife conservation, and how much they’re willing to open their wallets to help endangered animals. Here’s what they found:
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What a fossil revolution reveals about the history of ‘big data’

In 1981, when I was nine years old, my father took me to see Raiders of the Lost Ark. Although I had to squint my eyes during some of the scary scenes, I loved it – in particular because I was fairly sure that Harrison Ford’s character was based on my dad. My father was a palaeontologist at the University of Chicago, and I’d gone on several field trips with him to the Rocky Mountains, where he seemed to transform into a rock-hammer-wielding superhero.
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Watch: Earth’s Biosphere – Monthly Averages of Land Greenness (Vegetation) and Ocean Chlorophyll

NASA has published a video titled “Earth’s Biosphere: The Green Marble”, showing the monthly averages of land greenness (vegetation) and ocean chlorophyll. You can watch how the primary producers (plants and phytoplankton) transform the Earth’s landmasses and oceans over 12 months.
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What did Ancient Earth Look Like

I stumbled upon an amazing web page showing what did ancient Earth look like. On “Dinosaur Pictures and Facts” web page (dinosaurpictures.org), there’s also an interactive animation. On this page, you can either select the years (i.e. 600 million years ago) or jump to a particular event (i.e. first multicellular life) and see how ancient Earth did look like then. You can also remove the clouds and stop the Earth’s rotation if you want to.
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Watch: Iceland Is Growing New Forests for the First Time in 1,000 Years

Iceland was extensively forested when it was first settled. When the Vikings first arrived in the 9th century, the Nordic island was covered in 25 to 40 percent forest, compared to 1% in the present day. In the late 12th century, Ari the Wise (Ari Thorgilsson, 1067–1148 AD), Iceland’s most prominent medieval chronicler, described it in the Íslendingabók (Book of IcelandersNotes 1) as “forested from mountain to sea shore”. Unfortunately, after the permanent human settlement, the forests were heavily exploited for firewood, timber and to make room for farming. Within a few centuries, almost all of Iceland’s trees were gone. This rapid deforestation has resulted in massive soil erosion that puts the island at risk for desertification. Today, many farms have been abandoned. Three-quarters of Iceland’s 100,000 km2is affected by soil erosion, 18,000 km2 (6,900 sq mi) serious enough to make the land useless.
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