I just used that title to get your attention. In reality, it's time for...This Week in Crazy Statistics!
Yes, it's Wednesday, so it's time for me to pull out the old science almanac and make you feel really guilty about being part of the world's most destructive species.
I know you don't want to hear about it. You want more on prepackaged foods and celebrity babies. Well, consider this your weekly serving of vegetables. It's good for you, dammit.Today's Topic: Mass Extinctions
Maybe you don't know about the cataclysmic mass extinctions that have defined biological history because your local school district, resources stretched to the max by a perenially-increasing student body, no longer requires x-number of science classes to be taken by all students. But that's where I come in, fool. The least you need to know:
Let's start with some numbers...
1. Estimated number of species on earth identified by science: 1.8 million
2. Estimated total species on earth: between 10 and 100 million
3. Number of known endangered/threatened species: 11,046
4. Number of species removed from endangered list in U.S. since 1978 (as of 2002): 25
So yeah, biodiversity? At its greatest point in ecological history...the downside being we're making sure to put an end to that. Across the eons of time, there have been roughly 6 mass extinctions in which huge percentages of species were wiped out, leading the way for those that survived to evolve and fill new niches. The last time this happened was 65 million years ago when that gi-normous meteorite wiped out the dinosaurs and about 50% of all species on earth. We're in the beginning stages of a mass extinction now, and it's our fault. Somehow "too many homo sapiens"
have the same ring as "devastating impact of a large outer space object that blotted out the sun for two years."
Here's something for you: the oldest known fossilized vomit comes from a long-gone icthyosaur who dwelled in the sea and apparently ate some shellfish that didn't agree with him. That was about 160 million years ago. We didn't even have mammals back then, but his vomit survives. Am I the only one who finds this fascinating?!