One of many fascinating planets in the solar system, the fact that we live on Earth is not the only reason why we think it is especially interesting. Instead, the fact that the globe that we all live on is filled to the brim with different lifeforms makes it stand out. Of course, we fully admit that there are reasons to believe that life exists elsewhere, but until we can examine that fully, we will continue to look inward.
With so many different species co-existing on Earth today, if you have the time and passion to do some research, there are many incredible things going on all around us. Even more astonishing when you factor in all of the now-extinct animals that have come in the past, at times, reading about the life on Earth feels like you’ve stumbled into a sci-fi story. Sadly, sitting down and looking into things yourself can be far too time-consuming so a lot flies under the radar. Realizing that inspired us to put together this list of 20 facts about Life on Earth most people don’t know.
In order for a fact about life on Earth to be considered for this list, it first and foremost needs to be something that would surprise and amaze a lot of people. In addition to that, we weren’t interested in facts about us humans, as that could make up another list for another day. Aside from a lack of interest in humanity, pretty much everything else was fair game but we put a premium on facts that go surprisingly underreported.
20 All Clownfish Are Born Male
One of the core concepts in the original Jurassic Park movie, there are species on the planet that can switch genders if a herd is thinned out and offspring creation necessitates it. Even though we knew that was a thing, it never even occurred to us that there would be a fish species like the clownfish, all of which are born genderless and then become male. As such, no matter how many of them are found in the ocean, every single female has switched their gender to procreate at one time in the past. Actually, in each school of clownfish, there is one female, the dominate one of the group who also tends to be the largest.
19 Upside Down Waterfalls
We want to make something clear right off the top — gravity is a constant on this planet so when we refer to upside down waterfalls, it may not be the first thing that comes to mind for you. Instead, we are talking about waterfalls like the one you can find in places like Kinder Falls, United Kingdom or Waipuhia Falls, Oahu, Hawaii. Operating like a typical waterfall where there is a ledge which water falls off, at these locations and several other around the world, the liquid is then hit by a strong gust of wind at certain times. As a result, the water just flies back up which results in an upside down waterfall effect.
18 More Trees on Earth than Stars in the Milky Way
In a world where people sometimes throw out facts that turn out to have more of a basis in conjecture or lies, sometimes people make a claim and our instinct is to utterly dismiss it.
A perfect example of that in our view, the idea that there are significantly more trees on the planet than stars in the Milky Way seems like it can’t possibly be true.
However, a study put out in 2015 came to the conclusion that there are roughly 3 billion trees on Earth which is around three times as many stars as there are in the Milky Way.
17 Apes that Were Three-Meters Tall Lived at the Same Time as Humans
Animals that you do not want to mess with to this day, if you end up on the wrong side of an ape’s anger, they can do an unbelievable amount of damage in a short period of time. Amazingly enough, however, in the distant past, there was a much larger species of ape that was so big, we can’t even imagine what they were capable of. Named the Gigantopithecus blacki, this long extinct ape could be 3 meters tall and weigh as much as 1,190 pounds. If that isn’t incredible enough for you, they also lived in the same time period as human beings for a time.
16 Hippo Sweat is a Moisturizer and Sunscreen
An incredible force in life, evolution allows animals to develop abilities that make it possible for them to live in whatever environment they call home. As such, we always just assumed that hippos would have skin that was not capable of burning in the sun’s rays, but it turns out that isn’t the case.
Instead, it is hippo sweat that has become unique enough to keep them safe from the sun.
Visually red and oily, hippo sweat works not only as a sunblock, but also as a skin moisturizer.
15 Gorillas Build New Nests Almost Every Day
We don’t know about you, but when we think of nests, it is an image of birds living in them that comes to mind. However, much to our surprise, there are apes that spend their nights snoozing in nests they’ve built in trees too.
Taking things to a whole new level, not only do these apes build nests for themselves, but for the most part, they are only used a single time.
Well, just over 4% of ape nests get a second night’s use and it is rare that they don’t start from scratch every single day.
14 Certain Whales Have “Accents”
Massive creatures who are absolutely fascinating, many whale species have well-defined social groups and the way they communicate with one another has been studied by loads of researchers. As a result of all of that painstaking work, we know something that is pretty nuts about sperm whales in particular. Known to communicate with sounds known as codas, whales from different regions have a distinct quality to the sounds they make. As such, these so-called “accents” make it possible for whales to identify which area one another are from.
13 Galloping Crocodiles Existed
Another example of an already fearsome animal species that is actually less deadly than it was in the past; today’s crocodiles have nothing on their counterparts from the Cretaceous era. We say that for some pretty huge reasons, including the fact that the extinct Kaprosuchus saharicus could be as much as 21-feet long and had three sets of sharp tusks. On top of that, they also had a snout that could be used as a battering ram. Then, there was the Laganosuchus thaumastos, a crocodile species of a similar size that had legs long enough to gallop like a horse.
12 How Quickly Rats Can Multiply
An intrusion in your life that can quickly feel like the bane of your existence, if rats get into your house it can be incredibly frustrating. Sadly, if you don’t want to make that feeling a whole lot worse, then you probably don’t want to learn about how quickly they can multiply. Capable of mating more than once a minute, once a female rat gets pregnant, it only takes 23 days at most to give birth to a litter. Since those rats take only 4 to 5 weeks to reach maturity, if a pair of rats and their offspring were allowed to procreate unchecked, it could result in the birth of half a billion in rats in 3 years.
11 Survival of the fittest
Often seen as killing machines, there have been a lot of researchers that have tried to teach the world that sharks are not as dangerous to people as movies like Jaws would have you believe. If they want to change the image that sharks have, they are probably hoping this fact about them continues to go largely unknown. Already learning to devour the weak even before they are born, when a shark gets pregnant, its strongest pups will eat all but one of its siblings while still in utero.
10 How Salty the Ocean Is
Something we learned about while we were still kids, we’ve been well aware that oceans are made up of salt water for a very long time. Considering that the Earth is 71% water, it stands to reason that there is a lot of salt on the planet. However, once we learned that there is only 35 parts of salt for every thousand parts of water, it didn’t seem all that impressive. Actually, when you have that much water on the planet, it is amazing just how quickly it adds up. In fact, if you could somehow extract all of the salt from the ocean and spread it evenly, it would stand 500 feet tall on land.
9 Giant Fungi
An extremely varied organism, as any chef would be able to tell you, the assortment of different fungi available is massive and that doesn’t even include the many inedible kinds. That said, when they come up, we always visualize the mushrooms that we eat first which is why we generally think of them being a certain size. However, millions of years ago, fungi were very different from the ones you can buy at your local store. Able to reach 24 feet tall and 3 feet in diameter, at one time, towering fungus spores were the size of many trees we see today.
8 Octopus Biology
Creatures that seem like they could be straight out of a science fiction film, from looking at an octopus, we could easily imagine that they come from another planet. Funnily enough, once you learn about their physiology, these incredible creatures seem all the more fantastical.
Pliable beyond belief, a 50-pound octopus can squeeze through a hole that is 2 inches in diameter.
That is nothing though in the bigger picture as they possess 3 hearts, 2 of which pound their blue blood to their gills and a third for the rest of them. On top of that, they have 9 brains, 1 of which is central, that make up their nervous system.
7 Animal Democracy
One of the most meaningful ideas in the history of humanity, democracies have allowed millions of people to enjoy freedoms that were unimaginable in the past. What we never realized is that it is only the massive ego of our species that make us think we’re the only ones to live under that kind of system. That’s because there are several animals that take the common will of a group into account before each action.
Most interesting of them all, the African buffalo have a voting system in which the females stand and face the direction they want to go and whatever area gets the most votes is their next destination.
Talk about democracy at a primitive level.
6 Jellyfish Predate Dinosaurs By a Whole Lot
We’re just going to say it, in our opinion, jellyfish are some of the coolest organisms around in general and the various species are fascinating in their own right. Around for millions of years, they have no bones which means the vast array of jellyfish that have lived have left behind zero fossils. Despite that, scientists have been able to track how long they’ve been on the planet and it blows us away. At least 500 million years old, jellyfish have existed on Earth so long that they predate the first dinosaurs by millions of years.
5 Extinct Frogs Gave Birth from Their Mouths
An absolute imperative if life on Earth is going to continue, if a species couldn’t reproduce, then it would simply cease to exist. That in no way means that every method is created equally, and while childbirth can be an excruciating experience for human women, there were two now-extinct species of frogs that would be jealous. Known as gastric-brooding frogs, they would create an egg, fertilize it, and then swallow it whole. Once that took place, their stomach would be converted into a womb and after their offspring came to term, the mother would give birth via its mouth.
4 Tardigrades Can Survive In Open Space and So Much More
Proof positive that life finds a way, there are organisms on the planet that have proven themselves to be capable of surviving unbelievable things. One of the most impressive, tardigrades are seen by many to be the toughest living creature on the planet. Microscopic invertebrates, they have been known to continue living even after they end up in a minus 272 Celsius degree environment. Far from through, they can also endure an insane amount of radiation. That said, we are most impressed by the time the European Space Agency launched 3,000 of them into low Earth orbit and they lived for 12 days in the vacuum of space.
3 Hard workers
One of the worst things in the history of humanity, the fact that slavery existed for so long is simply horrifying. Thankfully, in much of the world, it has been eradicated and is now seen as truly disgusting. Sadly, in the ant world is still dealing with these kinds of issues. That’s because of the existence of slave-maker ants, a species that attacks other ants, kill the adults, eats many of the youngs and forces any survivors to do their bidding.
2 Bacterium Survives Extremely Long Freeze
The most frightening entry on this list by a long shot, it appears as though the world could end up in the grip of long dormant bug at any time if things go the wrong way.
That is because scientists observed a bacterium that was 8 million years old come back to life and grow within a laboratory in 2007.
Extracted from a piece of the oldest ice on Earth that we know of, the fact that it ceased being dormant means the same thing could happen with other long-gone viruses and bacteria. With global warming melting more and more of the planet’s ice, it seems like there is no telling what could be unleashed.
1 Essentially Immortal Jellyfish
The most astonishing thing on the planet if you ask us, the Turritopsis dohrnii is small but mighty. Only 4.5 millimetres in diameter and around the same height, their tiny size makes them easy to overlook, but that would be a mistake. We believe that because they react very differently, once they reach an age where many animals may face their demise. Instead of passing away,
once they get old, they somehow manage to shrink their bodies, have their tentacles retract, and revert to their biologically immature state.
Starting their life anew, their rebirths have been observed in labs, which means the only way they can die is by an attack.
References: immortaljellyfish.com, bbc.com, washingtonpost.com, kickassfacts.com, mnn.com, biologicaldiversity.org, theterramarproject.org, smithsonianmag.com, oceanservice.noaa.gov, livescience.com, dailymail.co.uk, iflscience.com, livescience.com, animals.howstuffworks.com, todayifoundout.com, natgeokids.com