If you can read this, either the style sheet didn't load or you have an older browser that doesn't support style sheets. Try clearing your browser cache and refreshing the page.

(TreeHugger)   Graph shows all of earth's land mammals by weight. In case you were wondering, we've pretty much killed everything but our food and ourselves   (treehugger.com) divider line 50
    More: Sad, mammals, Earth, Randall Munroe, tree huggers, roboticist, graphs  
•       •       •

4419 clicks; posted to Geek » on 06 Mar 2014 at 12:41 PM (27 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



50 Comments   (+0 »)
   
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest
 
2014-03-06 12:09:20 PM
We win!
 
2014-03-06 12:43:14 PM
Mammals. No birds and insects. The biomass of ants outweigh all of humanity's buildings.
 
2014-03-06 12:50:30 PM
Ok, linking directly to XKCD was dubious enough, now Fark is linking to articles based directly off an XKCD? C'mon
 
2014-03-06 12:51:28 PM

New Farkin User Name: Ok, linking directly to XKCD was dubious enough, now Fark is linking to articles based directly off an XKCD? C'mon


Came here to say this.
 
2014-03-06 12:52:19 PM
Hitler was inspired by nature. Just think about that.
 
2014-03-06 12:54:24 PM
What about vermin?  There should be a hell of a lot of rat squares.
 
2014-03-06 12:55:22 PM

New Farkin User Name: Ok, linking directly to XKCD was dubious enough, now Fark is linking to articles based directly off an XKCD?


You called that an article?
 
2014-03-06 12:57:42 PM
And what's the problem with foxes, wolves etc?  Would it kill them to eat more and get some weight?  lazy dumb wild animals
 
2014-03-06 12:59:42 PM

wildcardjack: Mammals. No birds and insects. The biomass of ants outweigh all of humanity's buildings.


Good point.  And a quick google finds three scientific articles backing that statement up.

So, I guess humans are being oppressed by ants.
 
2014-03-06 01:03:44 PM
I liked it when I saw it on xkcd directly the day it was published, which was yesterday.
 
2014-03-06 01:08:03 PM
And we're working diligently on the latter!
 
2014-03-06 01:08:36 PM
Soon we'll be the food.

www.sivatherium.narod.ru
 
2014-03-06 01:09:20 PM
I really doubt that the biomass of mice is as negligible as this graph makes it seem.

In fact, I'd expect the biomass of mice to outweigh all the animals shown in the graph (including humans) together.
 
2014-03-06 01:15:42 PM
...we've pretty much killed everything but our food and ourselves

They started it.
 
2014-03-06 01:16:39 PM
So far.
 
2014-03-06 01:21:20 PM
You mean to tell us that there would be a lot of animals raised for food and profit? WOW, that's just like mind blowing man.
 
2014-03-06 01:24:39 PM
It's almost as if when you produce 1 product to be more massive than the rest and protect it from predation you get a lot of that product... Mind blown!!!11ty

Just because there's only 2oz of mold/mildew growing in the crawl space under your house and 2 tons of Corn in the surrounding fields doesn't mean the farmers have "killed everything else" as subby (aka church of green) claims.
 
2014-03-06 01:30:59 PM
Conversely, we eat a hell of a lot of meat.
 
2014-03-06 01:32:26 PM

draypresct: In fact, I'd expect the biomass of mice to outweigh all the animals shown in the graph (including humans) together.


Even in rat capitals like NYC, the biomass of humans is several hundred times that of rodents. Humans are for more widespread than mice. My guess is that mice and rats are the largest of the green blobs in the upper right.


wildcardjack: The biomass of ants outweigh all of humanity's buildings.


The high end estimage of ant biomass is about 30 times ours, so I am not sure if that factoid is accurate.
 
2014-03-06 01:33:34 PM
If tigers were more delicious, there would be a hell of a lot more of them. So it's really their own fault, if you think about it.
 
2014-03-06 01:34:54 PM

draypresct: I really doubt that the biomass of mice is as negligible as this graph makes it seem.

In fact, I'd expect the biomass of mice to outweigh all the animals shown in the graph (including humans) together.




While mice may be a domesticated pest, we aren't raising them as food (at least, not in the west).

/Nature makes very poor use of its acreage.
/we can only estimate the number of wild animals, but have a decent grasp on domestic stocks.
/by weight, this planet belongs to microbes.
 
2014-03-06 01:37:48 PM
Featured partner?
Why not link to the comic itself since it has been done before. I really don't need someone to explain to me how to look at a webcomic.
 
2014-03-06 01:44:57 PM

ArkPanda: What about vermin?  There should be a hell of a lot of rat squares.


Take a lot of squares from "wildlife" and call them "vermin."  Congratulations, you just made it worse.
 
2014-03-06 01:45:04 PM

draypresct: I really doubt that the biomass of mice is as negligible as this graph makes it seem.

In fact, I'd expect the biomass of mice to outweigh all the animals shown in the graph (including humans) together.


Actually, mouse, rat and other rodent populations are often estimated to be about the same as humans, give or take a couple billion. Considering the average human weighs considerably more than the average rodent, I would say that their total biomass is rather insignificant compared to yours, er, ours.
 
2014-03-06 01:48:40 PM

stuhayes2010: wildcardjack: Mammals. No birds and insects. The biomass of ants outweigh all of humanity's buildings.

Good point.  And a quick google finds three scientific articles backing that statement up.

So, I guess humans are being oppressed by ants.


I, for one, welcome our ant overlords....
 
2014-03-06 02:00:58 PM

jxb465: draypresct: I really doubt that the biomass of mice is as negligible as this graph makes it seem.

In fact, I'd expect the biomass of mice to outweigh all the animals shown in the graph (including humans) together.

Actually, mouse, rat and other rodent populations are often estimated to be about the same as humans, give or take a couple billion. Considering the average human weighs considerably more than the average rodent, I would say that their total biomass is rather insignificant compared to yours, er, ours.


I believe they're estimated to be as many or more rats than humans in areas with the densest human population, e.g. New York City. Elsewhere, I believe mice and rats outnumber humans, although no-one knows how much. I don't think we know even within a factor of 100 how many mice exist in the wild.
 
2014-03-06 02:10:31 PM

jxb465: draypresct: I really doubt that the biomass of mice is as negligible as this graph makes it seem.

In fact, I'd expect the biomass of mice to outweigh all the animals shown in the graph (including humans) together.

Actually, mouse, rat and other rodent populations are often estimated to be about the same as humans, give or take a couple billion. Considering the average human weighs considerably more than the average rodent, I would say that their total biomass is rather insignificant compared to yours, er, ours.


Yeah, the average mouse weighs just under an ounce (about 20 mice/lb seems to be the accepted average) so it takes 3800 mice to equal my 190 lbs. That's a lot of mice...
 
2014-03-06 02:13:32 PM
Land mammals are only really viable in large sizes during ice ages and under artificial conditions.  So... yes, but so what?

The fact that most successful mammalian wildlife is human-sized or smaller isn't exactly a shocking new development.  Nor is the fact that humans and our products have a massively higher population density than our wild counterparts, that's kind of the entire goal of technology.
 
2014-03-06 02:29:46 PM

Jim_Callahan: Land mammals are only really viable in large sizes during ice ages and under artificial conditions.  So... yes, but so what?



That's not even close to true. Bison are huge, and there used to be 50+ million of them. There were 3+ million African elephants 150 years ago. Single herds of reindeer used to be a million strong as well. Large land mammals have a long history of evolutionary success.

Large, wild land animals are really shiatty at coexisting with humans, though, because we use a lot of the same resources and they are delicious.
 
2014-03-06 02:33:23 PM
And yet, there is still so much left to eat.
 
2014-03-06 02:35:26 PM
Y U NO LINK TO XKCD? ART NEED CLICK
 
2014-03-06 02:36:58 PM

jxb465: draypresct: I really doubt that the biomass of mice is as negligible as this graph makes it seem.

In fact, I'd expect the biomass of mice to outweigh all the animals shown in the graph (including humans) together.

Actually, mouse, rat and other rodent populations are often estimated to be about the same as humans, give or take a couple billion. Considering the average human weighs considerably more than the average rodent, I would say that their total biomass is rather insignificant compared to yours, er, ours.


Your mom's biomass is so large...
 
2014-03-06 02:37:36 PM
In case you were wondering, we've pretty much killed everything but our food and ourselves

Not really, I mean yeah we've killed a lot of stuff and many to the brink to extinction, but those populations of cattle, swine and goats are over inflated because of domestication, not because we killed everything else off and they're all the remains.
 
2014-03-06 02:42:47 PM

wildcardjack: Mammals. No birds and insects. The biomass of ants outweigh all of humanity's buildings.


Yes. That would be implied by the large text that says "Earths LAND MAMMALS by Weight".

The tooltip in the original comic also calls out the fact that bacterial biomass by three orders of magnitude.
 
2014-03-06 02:46:12 PM

dennysgod: In case you were wondering, we've pretty much killed everything but our food and ourselves

Not really, I mean yeah we've killed a lot of stuff and many to the brink to extinction, but those populations of cattle, swine and goats are over inflated because of domestication, not because we killed everything else off and they're all the remains.


There would be more wild ungulates if there were fewer cattle, though, because the cattle graze on land that would otherwise be occupied by elk, antelope, buffalo, etc., along with their predators and smaller niche animals. Habitat destruction has reduced the numbers of wild animals to a far greater degree than direct killing.
 
2014-03-06 03:06:25 PM

Jubeebee: Jim_Callahan: Land mammals are only really viable in large sizes during ice ages and under artificial conditions.  So... yes, but so what?


That's not even close to true. Bison are huge, and there used to be 50+ million of them. There were 3+ million African elephants 150 years ago. Single herds of reindeer used to be a million strong as well. Large land mammals have a long history of evolutionary success.

Large, wild land animals are really shiatty at coexisting with humans, though, because we use a lot of the same resources and they are delicious.


I will accept bison as a counter-example, but reindeer run in the same weight range as humans (a 250 pound reindeer is a really massive one), so I think we're using a different definition of "large" there.  My proposition was that humans are really about as big as land mammals tend to be viably in nature in large quantities, most of the exceptions being things that run at relatively low population densities like pigs and bears.

Bison is a reasonable counter-point, though.  Albeit whether they were really wandering around in the massive quantities the settlers found them in naturally is something I wouldn't be entirely certain of... there had been a significant human population that had just gone nearly extinct, they might have been surging like deer do when people kill off the predators and then don't restrict an area directly.

... actually, I'm genuinely curious about that now, gonna go see if i can look it up.
 
2014-03-06 03:10:18 PM

Ghastly: And yet, there is still so much left to eat.



When the cows run out, all that stuff in the center of the chart is still good eatins.

/Long pig, the other other white meat.
 
2014-03-06 03:20:21 PM

Jubeebee: Jim_Callahan: Land mammals are only really viable in large sizes during ice ages and under artificial conditions.  So... yes, but so what?


That's not even close to true. Bison are huge, and there used to be 50+ million of them. There were 3+ million African elephants 150 years ago. Single herds of reindeer used to be a million strong as well. Large land mammals have a long history of evolutionary success.

Large, wild land animals are really shiatty at coexisting with humans, though, because we use a lot of the same resources and they are delicious.


and they also lack the capacity to coexist with humans without acting like, you know, animals, with the killing and the aggression, and what not. You want to coexist with herds of wild animals roaming around everywhere? Good luck with that, let me know how it turns out.
 
2014-03-06 03:36:17 PM

Jim_Callahan: I will accept bison as a counter-example, but reindeer run in the same weight range as humans (a 250 pound reindeer is a really massive one), so I think we're using a different definition of "large" there. My proposition was that humans are really about as big as land mammals tend to be viably in nature in large quantities, most of the exceptions being things that run at relatively low population densities like pigs and bears.


Wiki says otherwise.
The females usually measure 162-205 cm (64-81 in) in length and weigh 80-120 kg (180-260 lb).[32] The males (or "bulls") are typically larger (although the extent to which varies in the different subspecies), measuring 180-214 cm (71-84 in)in length and usually weighing 159-182 kg (351-401 lb)

I will agree that humans are fairly large as far as mammals go, but there are larger species that could and did reach high population densities. We are probably the most population dense apex predator in history, although that's mainly because we're also generalists and can use grain agriculture.

spman: You want to coexist with herds of wild animals roaming around everywhere? Good luck with that, let me know how it turns out.


Never said any such thing. Although humans did coexist with herds of wild animals roaming around for most of our history, I do quite enjoy the benefits of agriculture and domestication.
 
2014-03-06 04:07:33 PM

Jim_Callahan: Land mammals are only really viable in large sizes during ice ages and under artificial conditions.  So... yes, but so what?

The fact that most successful mammalian wildlife is human-sized or smaller isn't exactly a shocking new development.  Nor is the fact that humans and our products have a massively higher population density than our wild counterparts, that's kind of the entire goal of technology.


Really? There were some really big land mammals before the first ice age. I mean much bigger than elephants. For example, the largest land mammal, Indricotherium (Paraceratherium) lived during the Oligocene (33-23 million years ago). It was about 40 feet long and 15-20 tons.

True, we have lost some very large mammals, although scientists are not sure whether humans hunted them to extinction or they couldn't adapt to climate change or both.

But none of the human domestic mammals are very large mammals and neither are any of the land animals we have today, except maybe elephants and rhinoceros. Modern cattle are much smaller than Aurochs and until humans started to breed them, cattle, horses, etc. were smaller than today's animals.

Today's fowl and domestic animals are obese giants compared to the wild horses of yesteryear.

Humans are using about half of the resources available to land animals for agriculture, pasture and cities, roads, etc.

That is what this graphic is meant to show. There is no danger of rats, mice, or rabbits becoming extinct, but virtually all of the large mammals are endangered. Foxes are thriving in North America--there are far more of them than when the white man arrived because we have opened up the forests and shifted towards fields and pastures.

Tigers, lions, elephants and rhinos are already extinct through out much of their natural ranges. Wolves, bears and bison are also extinct through much of their formal range and low in numbers, not to mention much smaller in size than they were before humans turned out. The large mammals of Australia are completely gone--the kangaroo and the dingo are nothing compared to their predecessors and ancestors.

Europe is a complete desert compared to even four centuries ago. The only wild bits of any size are in Russia or Poland.

There were 19,000,000 elephants in Africa in the 1800s. 19,000 by the 1970s. They are at risk of extinction by poaching and by killing as humans conflict more and more with wildlife. Lions are at risk of extinct from canine diseases. You may as well kiss the rhino good bye, White, Black and Sumatran.

Bats are not something you think of very often, but there are over 4,000 species and they aren't thriving any where.

This may be a long term trend on top of shorter trends, including the massive expansion of humans from a few million only a few thousand years ago to 7 billion plus today. But it is the way the world is going. We are losing mammals and they may be very rare in the geological time scale future as show in the television series Future Wild.

Imagine a world where the last surviving mammals are even tinier and rarer than they were before the dinosaurs and their cousins rose to become the kings of air, land and sea. Humans would have to be long gone, but we probably will be.

This graphic is based on some of the best scientific data. It is really quite brilliant.

The fact that it shows only larger land mammals is a choice by the author to show up certain facts. It would be interesting to see ALL mammals in such a graphic, but as pointed out, it wouldn't be easy to get the smaller mammals right by an order or two or three of magnitude, so it's useless to try.

A lot of people are unaware just how much land it takes to support even one small species. For example, a breeding population of Ivory Billed Woodpeckers requires about 10,000 breeding pairs (successfully breeding pairs, that is) and thus about one third of the US in forests with old growth trees.

But we have cut over virtually every square inch of forest several times in the last 400 years and the kind of large old or dying trees that large woodpeckers need are very rare and getting rarer.

Kiss 'em good bye because they aren't like to survive another few hundred years.

Also say good-bye to the cheetah. Their population dropped to about 10,000 a few thousand years ago, probably because of humans who killed them or domesticated them for hunting, and they are almost clones. They lack the genetic diversity of a healthy species. They have a great future behind them.
 
2014-03-06 04:23:19 PM
they forgot deer and elk......... those friken things wil never go away


/they ate my garden!
// and my dam apple tree
 
2014-03-06 04:27:44 PM
On land the bio-mass of top predators and top browsers is small but the teeming little things have enormous numbers and mass. In the ocean it is the other way around--the two eco-systems are inverted pyramids with respect to each other. Sharks and tuna make up most of the mass of a healthy marine ecology, while the little fish are fast breeders and just as quickly anchovy paste to some predator or other, including man, unfortunately for them.

Sadly, we tend to kill the top predators and browsers in the sea, while exterminating small pests on the land. In both cases, the removal of the bulk of the bio-mass and the disruption of the habitat and food web while doing so is extremely dangerous to the survival, not so much of species, as entire eco-systems, even climates now that we are doing to the climate what we have long done to the land and its living communities.

Things have changed. That is the most important message to take away from this graphic and from all environmental thinking. Things have changed and still the religious and the political denialists deny this and think in what I call pre- 911 (A.D.) terms. They say you can't change the world, but we have for two centuries now and then some--many of the things we take for "wild" and "ancient" are man-made.

We no longer are a few million or a couple of hundred million people scattered in a vast wildness. There is no wildness. There is no place without air pollution or floating jetsam. There are seven billion of us, headed to peak out at or above 9 billion (early population predictions in the 1940s and 1950s were bang on in 2000 A.D.)

In short, we have changed the world. That's what this graph of bio-mass shows. That's what climate change shows.

And it will get much, much worse before it gets better.

I have often read that there is a 50 year time lag involved in climate change. Today's 37 year heat wave is the product of the state of fuel consumption when there were less than 3 billion of us. 2050's climate will be proportionate to the rise of China and India from out of nowhere in terms of energy consumption being behemoths that consume more energy than the USA or Europe.

Most large mammals are just hanging on now. What will be the number of tigers in 2050? in 2100?

This climate change thing has only become noticeable to observant humans since the 1980s. It will only be acknowledged by the willing stupids and the willfully blind when it has become undeniable to those who have only a tenuous grasp on reality.

Humans just have no understanding of or grasp for things that don't happen on a human scale. They don't get statistics, probablity, climate, ecology or geology. They deny evolution, deep time, deep space and anything that doesn't serve their short term and local interests.

We aren't just stupid and lazy and ignorant. If we needed bigger brains, we could get them simply by listening to people who are smarter and better informed than we are. We are perversely and willfully ignorant. Ignorance is manufactured on a gigantic scale.

Jared Diamond says that societies choose to live or die. Like a declining aristocratic house, whole societies choose not to change  the way they do things. Instead of marrying beneath them, royal families and nobility just die off like the human race in the SF movie Children of Men.

And that's what you are doing by not thinking things like this through, my denialist chum-ps.

One swallow does not a summer make. Nor does a snow storm make an ice age. It's a matter of scale and you have to be able to comprehend scale in a rough sort of way.

Why would 500 pounds of rats per human be a good thing? They are an invasive species, vermin we call them because they don't serve us as slaves except in research or as pets. Why would you want to confuse the issue by counting rats with tigers and snow leopards and concluding falsely that everything is AOK?

Why would you want to count inches of snow in a small area during the depths of winter and conclude that the world is not warming radically and rapidly, too much and too fast for Nature to adapt, let alone every species?

I have a little touchstone to test our ideas on scale. Remember this: if an asteroid were to wipe out North and South America, neither the white race, nor the yellow race, nor the brown or black races would lose anything essential to their culture or their gene  pool. The Americas, let alone the USA or Canada, are a fifth wheel, a spare tire. Nothing that happens here really matters except our massive consumption and production, and we have outsourced the production.
 
2014-03-06 05:08:41 PM
static.neatorama.com
 
2014-03-06 05:40:26 PM

brantgoose: We no longer are a few million or a couple of hundred million people scattered in a vast wildness. There is no wildness. There is no place without air pollution or floating jetsam. There are seven billion of us, headed to peak out at or above 9 billion (early population predictions in the 1940s and 1950s were bang on in 2000 A.D.)
In short, we have changed the world. That's what this graph of bio-mass shows. That's what climate change shows.
And it will get much, much worse before it gets better.


Brantgoose, you're such a knife in the heart. You make me glad I'm getting old. Nonetheless, we should marry and not produce any children.
 
2014-03-06 06:16:58 PM

Sidecrab: Hitler was inspired by nature. Just think about that.


Hitler was just another Christian thug who did not understand the theory of evolution.
 
2014-03-06 06:24:27 PM
i.imgur.com

Here's most of the mass.
 
2014-03-07 07:55:00 AM

Jubeebee: Jim_Callahan: Land mammals are only really viable in large sizes during ice ages and under artificial conditions.  So... yes, but so what?


That's not even close to true. Bison are huge, and there used to be 50+ million of them. There were 3+ million African elephants 150 years ago. Single herds of reindeer used to be a million strong as well. Large land mammals have a long history of evolutionary success.

Large, wild land animals are really shiatty at coexisting with humans, though, because we use a lot of the same resources and they are delicious.


That last one pegged it.
 
2014-03-07 09:57:12 AM

Uncle Tractor: Sidecrab: Hitler was inspired by nature. Just think about that.

Hitler was just another Christian thug who did not understand the theory of evolution.


I didn't know Hitler was black
 
2014-03-07 10:42:52 AM

NeuroticRocker: Uncle Tractor: Sidecrab: Hitler was inspired by nature. Just think about that.

Hitler was just another Christian thug who did not understand the theory of evolution.

I didn't know Hitler was black


I have no idea what you're talking about, so ALL HEIL THE HYPNOTOAD!

i560.photobucket.com
 
2014-03-07 11:22:04 AM

brantgoose: I have a little touchstone to test our ideas on scale. Remember this: if an asteroid were to wipe out North and South America, neither the white race, nor the yellow race, nor the brown or black races would lose anything essential to their culture or their gene  pool. The Americas, let alone the USA or Canada, are a fifth wheel, a spare tire. Nothing that happens here really matters except our massive consumption and production, and we have outsourced the production.


Sure thing, Ayn Rand.

I suppose the red races don't factor into your equations.

Also, that's the first tl;dr of yours I actually forced myself through.

/otherwise, you are right
 
Displayed 50 of 50 comments

View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest


This thread is closed to new comments.

Continue Farking
Submit a Link »






Report