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13 Astonishing Facts About Our Planet Earth!

Facts About Earth

Since the dawn of time there has only been one thing that we all undoubtedly have in common, our home, planet Earth. From the atmosphere to it’s core the Earth is filled with many wonders, most yet to be discovered.  Here are 13 Unbelievable Facts About Our Planet Earth!

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1.There are more living organisms in a teaspoonful of soil than there are people on earth.

Teaspoonful of Soil
Image source: sciencewows.ie

Every patch of soil you see contains an ecosystem of millions of living interacting creatures. It’s not unlikely for there to be more creatures in a teaspoon of high quality soil than there are people on planet Earth. The variety of living beings is astonishing and due to the different types of nutrients contained within the soil. Soil also the home of many different ranges of habitats, such as; earthworm channels, ant-hills, rabbit warrens, etc.

Due to the abundance of organisms, their ability to sustain themselves underground, and varying sizes, very little is known about soil organisms.  Protozoic species require the strongest microscopes to be seen. Known organisms are classified by feeding habits, by size, and/or burrowing activities. The most common classification technique used is by size, diving them into sections such as: macfrofauna, mesofauna, microfauna, and microflora.(source)

2. Before trees were common, the Earth may have been covered with giant mushrooms.

Earth covered with giant mushroom
Image source: www.thecambodiaherald.com

Between 350 to 420 million years ago, when plant life began to spring from the land and the tallest trees only stood a few feet high, large living spires grew from the ground. According to New Scientist, the organism had trunks that were 24 feet (8 meters) high and 3 feet (1 meter) wide. A fossil excavated by Saudi Arabian scientists lead to the possible conclusion the giant creature was a fungus.

“A 6-metre fungus would be odd enough in the modern world, but at least we are used to trees quite a bit bigger,” says Boyce. “Plants at that time were a few feet tall, invertebrate animals were small, and there were no terrestrial vertebrates. This fossil would have been all the more striking in such a diminutive landscape.”

Prototaxites, had spiced up paleontologist findings for the past 150 years ever since they were first discovered in 1859. Since nothing similar had ever been found there were fossil record to what it might be, this made it difficult to find out what they were exactly.  The University of Chicago:

For the next 130 years, debate raged. Some scientists called Prototaxites a lichen, others a fungus, and still others clung to the notion that it was some kind of tree. “The problem is that when you look up close at the anatomy, it’s evocative of a lot of different things, but it’s diagnostic of nothing,” says Boyce, an associate professor in geophysical sciences and the Committee on Evolutionary Biology. “And it’s so damn big that when whenever someone says it’s something, everyone else’s hackles get up: ‘How could you have a lichen 20 feet tall?’”

This was until 2007 when a study found that the spires were gigantic prehistoric mushrooms.

Not everyone agreed with with the study as many people had trouble imagining that such a large species of fungi existed. Researchers against the idea argued Prototaxites spires were large mats of liverworts that had managed to be rolled up somehow.

The largest organism on Earth is currently a  single organism fungal mat spread over 2,200 acres of forest in eastern Oregon.(source)

3. The Earth’s core is about as hot as the sun’s surface.

Core of the Earth
Image source: dailymail

A recent study in Science suggests that the temperature of our planet’s core is around 6,000 degrees Kelvin. Much higher than the previous estimations that were closer to 5,000 degrees Kelvin. This incomprehensible temperature is the same as the surface of the sun.

French scientists were able to come to the conclusion in an experimental setting using X-ray diffraction to observe how iron crystals held under massive pressure form and melt. They estimated that the melting point of iron at 330 gigapascal  at the boundary of the inner core was between 5730 and  6730 degrees Kelvin which roughly similar to the sun’s surface.

Although the center of the Earth may be as hot as the surface of the sun, it should be noted that the sun’s surface is unusually cool compared to its atmosphere, which reaches temperatures of 1 to 2 million degrees Kelvin!

According to astronomer Jay M. Pasachoff, “one of the important unsolved problems in astrophysics” is figuring out why the sun’s corona is so hot in comparison to its surface. The majority of current theories lean towards the sun’s phenomenal magnetic field but its process in how it attracts heat from the surface is debated.(source)

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4. The Earth lost 40% of its wildlife in the past 40 years, according to the WWF.

Earth has lost half of its wild life
Image source: Calibas(wikipedia)

According to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Zoolaogical Society of London (ZSL), the Earth has nearly half of the amount of wildlife it had 40 years ago. Land, river and sea creatures are being killed off in unsustainable proportions, while pollution is poisoning habitats.

If half the animals died in London zoo next week it would be front page news. But that is happening in the great outdoors. This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live.” – Professor Ken Norris, ZSL’s Director of Science.

The downward spiral of the animal, fish and bird population was calculated by analyzing 10,000 different creatures, covering 3,000 species in total. This data was used to create a representative “Living Planet Index” (LPI) for the first time, as a reference to the state of all 45,000 known vertebrates.(source)

5. The earth’s deepest known point is the size of 24.7 Empire State Buildings end to end.

Challenger Deep
Image source: gatsbyfuneral.wordpress.com

The Challenger Deep is understood to be the deepest  point in the Earth’s seabed hydrosphere, with a depth of 10,898 to 11,034 m (35,755 to 36,201 ft) based on direct measurement from submersibles, and by sonar bathymetry. It is located in the  Pacific Ocean, at the southern part of the Mariana Trench close to the Mariana Islands group.

The Empire State Building from it’s base to it’s tip is only about 4% of the size of the Challenger Deep.(source)

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