Pando – An Organism That Weighs 6 Million KG

By Anupum Pant

Blue whales weigh about 150 tons each. That is a 150,000 kg animal we are talking about! Incredible! It is the largest animal to have ever lived on earth. Yes, bigger than any of the dinosaurs. Just for the perspective, the heart of a blue whale can weigh about 600 kg and is almost the size of a Volkswagen Beetle car. A human can fit in its arteries. But, if you thought no other organism can be heavier than a blue whale, you are in for a surprise.

The heaviest organism we’ve ever found, lives in the Fishlake national forest, Utah. In fact, the organism itself is the forest. This forest is a Vatican-city-sized forest which looks like it has several identical trees in a normal forest. Only what looks like identical trees in a normal forest, is actually a single huge tree.

The absolutely humongous tree is known to have come out of a single seed about 80,000 years back. With time, it went on to spread its roots and has cloned itself by popping out about 47,000 other extant clones.

Since it is a single huge tree, it indeed acts like a single huge tree. When one of the shoots (tree) is in need of nutrients, the interconnected root system makes sure that the tree gets what it needs. Also, these trees transition from winter to spring simultaneously, just like a single huge tree would.

MinuteEarth explains it better in the video below:

Largest Meteorite Left No Crater On Earth

By Anupum Pant

You should know: Meteor vs. Meteoroid vs. Meteorite

Meteor: The streak of light that we see in the sky is “Meteor”. When debris enters earth and gets burned up while entering, it leaves a streak of light. Unlike what is popularly believed, meteor is not the debris itself rather the word “meteor” refers to only the flash of light.

Meteoroid: A meteoroid is a mass that is small – ranging from a kilometer to only a few millimeters in diameter. Most meteoroids that enter the Earth’s atmosphere are so small that they vaporize completely and never reach the planet’s surface.

Meteorite: If the Meteoroid survives and reaches the earth’s surface, it becomes a Meteorite.

Hoba the Meteorite

About 80,000 years back, a ridiculously huge mix of Iron and Nickel entered the earth. It was so large that what was left out of all the burning through the atmosphere, measured 66,000 kg in the end. About half ton of this meteorite has gone to laboratories for research. Even after accounting for losses towards laboratories and vandalism, it is still the largest single mass of natural Iron on the Earth’s surface. It is the largest meteorite ever discovered till date and is called “Hoba”.

This meteorite was discovered by a farmer in Namibia in the year 1920. Since then, due to its mass, it has never been moved. The meteorite and the site has been declared as a national monument by the Namibian government and several tourists visit it every year.

Farmer’s Story: 

One winter as I was hunting at the farm Hoba I noticed a strange rock. I sat down on it. Only its upper part was visible. The rock was black, and all around it was calcareous soil. I scratched the rock with my knife and saw there was a shine beneath the surface. I then chiselled off a piece and took it to the SWA Maatskappy in Grootfontein, whose director established it to be a meteorite.

If that was hardly interesting…

The most puzzling thing about this meteorite is probably not that it belongs to a very rare class of meteorites (Ataxite), but the fact that it has no crater to be seen around it. Normally, a meteorite of this size should have left a crater hundreds of meters wide.

The best theory that explains the absence of any preserved crater around it is that, this piece of rock must have hit the earth’s surface at a very low angle. As a result, it must have skipped on the surface like a flat stone on water surface. And in the end, must have landed at the place where it lies today.

Elephant Bird – The Heaviest Bird Ever

By Anupum Pant

Scientific Name: Aepyornis maximus

No, it isn’t about a bird with a trunk or tusks. Weighing almost half a ton, the aptly named, elephant bird of Madagascar, was the heaviest bird to have ever existed on earth.  It looked like an Ostrich on steroids and of course it was a flightless bird. The number 3 bird in this picture is an illustration of the Elephant bird (around 10 feet in height) [image]

Note: Although we say that it was the heaviest bird to have ever existed, we can only say that because we haven’t been able to find any traces of a larger bird yet.

Interestingly, it wasn’t something that belonged to the Dinosaur era. It went extinct recently, around the 17th or 18th century, probably due to humans hunting it for food. Since cameras did not exist at that time, only written accounts of its sighting have been found.

As logic dictates, a huge bird would lay huge eggs. So, with a volume of about 180 to 250 times that of a chicken egg, measuring about 1 feet in height, its eggs were the largest laid eggs ever; larger than human heads. The shells could hold around 11 liters of liquid. Its eggs were said to have fed whole families. Some of them have been preserved – Some are being auctioned and some are available in museums. National Geographic Society in Washington holds a specimen that has the skeleton of an unborn Elephant bird.