What is “death by a thousand nibbles”? (facts about certain really large organisms)

Summer vacations have started and on a lazy hot afternoon (the temperature is literally touching 42°C in my town), I randomly thought of how disturbing this rising mercury would be for creatures outside.

Creatures—–Yes, upon my recent internet wanderings, I stumbled across the fact that the World’s largest organism, surprisingly, is not the blue whale. It is, infact, a single gigantic species of honey mushroom (Armillaria ostoyae), situated in Malheur National Park, Oregon, USA, measuring approximately 5.5 km or the size of 1350 soccer fields!!

Talking of some more large organisms, The Great Barrier Reef, in Australia, is considered as the largest living structure, stretching for over 1429 miles. But sadly this insanely important structure is slowly perishing. Coral Bleaching is a topic of concern, but first, it is important to understand what it actually means. Coral Bleaching is when the reef starts losing its vibrant colours and turns white. They initially have this colour because of the presence of an algae called Zooxanthellae. But alas, because of global warming, the ocean temperature rises, due to which the coral stresses out and it releases the algae, thus losing its colour and getting bleached. Why is this a pressing issue, you ask?

Well, for starters, with the deterioration of the reef systems, there’s a devastating impact on a large number of marine animals, including sea turtles and jellyfish. Corals also impact us. Firstly, reef tourism supports thousands of jobs and secondly, the reefs act as natural barriers and absorb the force of waves and storms in the sea, thus ultimately protecting the coastal communities.

And the best part is that, WE CAN HELP the reefs by taking some concrete steps. The solutions always seem easy, but a herculean task is needed to actually put them into pragmatic effect. We can contribute by:

• Adressing Climate Change

• Using renewable energy resources and,

• Reducing the use of pesticides and herbicides and preventing the runoff of fertilizers into the oceans.

Moving further, I got to know that the heaviest known organism on Earth is Pando, in south central Utah, also known as the trembling giant. It is basically a large colony of quacking male aspen, weighing 13 million pounds,having same genetic markers and a single large collective root system!!

But the sad part is, Pando is being destroyed. Because of human negligence, the mule deer and cattle in that area are allowed to graze for longer than required and they are slowly eating Pando away. This is also referred to as ” death by a thousand nibbles”. The new sprouts are eaten before they even have a chance to fully grow. Human development in this area, with campgrounds, power lines, hiking trails and cabins have also caused Pando to shrink and this organism is at a risk of vanishing altogether.

Some other facts about our wonderful animal world:

• The largest and heaviest animal is the Blue Whale

• The largest living land animal is The African Bush elephant of the order proboscidea

• The top ten heaviest animals are all different species of whales.

• The tallest dog breed is the Great Dane and the heaviest dog species is the English Mastiff.


stay tuned for more.