Category Archives: Life on Earth

The Tallest Tree in the World: Hyperion

Redwoods (scientific name: Sequoia sempervirens) are the tallest trees in the world, they easily reach heights of 300 feet (91 meters) and even more. They are not the tallest only, also evergreen and very long-lived: their life span is more than 1000 years, and some have been documented at even more than 2,000 years old. They can grow up to 29.2 feet (8.9 m) in diameter at breast height / dbh. Redwoods live in California, United States; and before commercial logging and clearing began by the 1850s, this massive tree occurred naturally in an estimated 2,100,000 acres (8,500 km2) along much of coastal California (excluding southern California where rainfall is not sufficient) and the southwestern corner of coastal Oregon within the United States. Now, unfortunately, an estimated 70% or more of ancient old-growth redwood trees have been displaced by environmental changes or cut down.

Among the redwoods, a tree named Hyperion dwarfs them all. The tree was discovered on August 25, 2006, by naturalists Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor, and is 379.7 feet (115.7 meters) tall.

The tree is estimated to contain 530 m3 (18,600 cu ft) of wood and to be roughly 700–800 years old. Researchers stated that woodpecker damage at the top may have prevented the tree from growing taller. According to Michael Taylor, “It’s possible it could’ve topped out at 380 feet (116 meters)”.
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If Earth’s life time was the distance from Los Angeles to New York City

Our old planet, the Earth is 4.54 billion years old. In fact, the human mind can no longer make any sense of the large numbers like that. Numbers like 1, 2, 14, 20, 50 are all quantities that we encounter quite frequently in our daily lives. And our brain evolved to conceptualize numbers like that: our ancestors saw two lions; they hunted five deer in one hunting party, the population of their tribe was 20, etc… But when the numbers are getting big, i.e. 1,000; 10,000… the problem begins: these numbers become increasingly difficult to conceptualize. Now, what happens when we try to conceptualize quantities like billions, like the Earth’s age? We can’t actually rationalize the immensity of such a big number. Because we haven’t a model of 4.54 billion that’s been compressed into something recognizable to the human mind.
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Hybrid Big Cats

Four of the five species of the big cats (the Panthera genus – lion, tiger, leopard, jaguar and snow leopard), the exception being the snow leopard can hybridize with each other to produce numerous hybrids. In fact, breeding of two different pantheras has been banned in many zoos and animal sanctuaries due to no conservation value of the hybrid, and the risk it poses on the mother that gives birth to it. For instance, the liger’s increased growth rate and enormous size can cause the tigress giving birth to have a difficult delivery, endangering both the mother and her liger cubs, which may be born prematurely or require a Caesarian. Common problems in cubs that survive are neurological disorders, obesity, genetic defects, and a shortened lifespan; though a few have reportedly made it to their twenties, many don’t survive past the age of seven. Moreover, male ligers have lowered testosterone levels and sperm counts, rendering them infertile while females, though capable of reproducing with either a lion or a tiger, often give birth to sickly cubs that don’t survive.

However, hybrids do occur by accident in captivity.
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Are we the first?

In 1950, the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi was chatting with his colleagues at the Los Alamos National Laboratory(1). They talked about recent rise in UFO reports, then the conversation shifted to other subjects. But during the lunch, Fermi suddenly asked “Where is everybody?”. He was talking about the extraterrestrial life, especially intelligent life. He made some calculations on the probability of Earth like planets, the beginning of life, the probability of intelligent life and high technology and concluded that we ought to have been visited long ago and many times over.

But, there is no reliable evidence aliens have visited Earth and we have observed no intelligent extraterrestrial life with current technology nor has SETI found any transmissions from other civilizations. The Universe, apart from the Earth, seems “dead”.

So, where is everybody?
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Your Life On Earth (presented by BBC)

A nice interactive webpage by the BBC – The British Broadcasting Corporation: how you and the world have changed since you were born? You’re simply entering your birth date, gender and height; selecting units (metric or imperial/US) and then watching how our planet (and you) has changed in your lifetime.
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Dolphins “rode” the heads of whales in the coast of Hawaii

In two different locations in the coast of Hawaii, scientists have observed unusual interactions between bottlenose dolphins and humpback whales as dolphins “rode” the heads of whales: the whales lifted the dolphins up and out of the water, and then the dolphins slid back down. In the video published by the American Museum of Natural History, the two species seemed to cooperate in the activity, and neither displayed signs of aggression or distress. Whales and dolphins in Hawaiian waters often interact, but playful social activity such as this is extremely rare between species.
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World’s top 6 biggest prehistoric crocodiles ever lived

Previously, I published a post about the largest crocodiles ever recorded. All sizes in that post were recorded in the recent times. The crocs listed were large, yes, but not as big as most people think. But in the prehistoric ages, some animals were much bigger than today’s counterparts – including crocodiles. So, what was the World’s biggest crocodile ever lived? Here are the top six candidates.
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​The Largest Alligator Ever Measured

Alligators can often reach at least 14 or 15 feet in length, which is even larger than some crocodile species, but not all of them, especially not the Saltwater Crocodile (I am talking about the American alligator – A. mississippiensis here, the Chinese alligator – A. sinensis is much smaller). But what is the largest alligator ever measured?
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