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When Melony Mahaarachchi interviewed at SpaceX in 2010, she was asked a question that would make most candidates go into panic mode: “We hire rock stars at SpaceX. You just presented a failed project. Mahaarachchi didn’t skip a beat when she answered, “Two reasons: Number one, rock stars are rock stars because they failed at the beginning and learned from their mistakes.
Have you ever wondered why land animals are so small today? Fossils have shown us that many dinosaurs were absolutely massive beasts, evolving over millions and millions of years to become huge, intimidating creature that could crush small animals under their mighty feet, and modern day mammals, by contrast, are tiny. Sure, elephants are big, but that seems to be a rare exception rather than the rule. As it turns out, the plight of many modern elephant species tells us everything we need to know about why mammals are so small: humans keep killing all the big ones.
A new study from a team of researchers from several American universities points to humans being the main reason why modern day animals are so tiny compared to the past. The research was published in Science. This is why we can't have nice things.
“We used to have animals on the Earth that weighed over 10 tons,” Felisa Smith, a paleoecologist at the University of New Mexico and co-author of the research, told Seeker. “Now the biggest thing is an elephant that on average is only about three and a half-ish, and if they go extinct, then we’re talking about things no bigger than 900 kilos (2,000 pounds). And that’s maximum size. If you look at mean size, it’s much, much different.”
The work focuses on what life roamed the earth in the post-dinosaur world, with creatures like the the wooly rhinoceros, mastodon, and the giant sloth which was as large as an elephant. These examples of "megafauna" began to disappear right around the time human ancestors pushed their way out of Africa. The scientists have drawn a pretty damning link between large-scale extinction of huge mammals and the arrival of human ancestors with insatiable appetites.
Even more unsettling than what our family tree has done to the animal kingdom may be what lies ahead. Smith and her fellow researchers suggest that, based on the trends humans have set in motion, such as climate change, larger modern animals face a similar fate as the ones we've already pushed to extinction.
"If we don’t cope with it, we actually are going to end up with an Earth where there is nothing bigger than a cow," Smith says. "And that’s a depressing thought for me personally.”
In his annual State of the City address on Monday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that Elon Musk's SpaceX would be building its Big Falcon Rocket ships in none other than the Port of Los Angeles.
Trump's new Nasa chief Jim Bridenstine a 'climate change denier' who could make 'terrifying' decisions, US senators warn
The man chosen by Donald Trump to be the new head of Nasa is a “climate change denier” who has “made a career out of ignoring science” and might disregard scientific advice about the safety of launching astronauts into space, US senators have warned. Giving Tea Party congressman James Bridenstine the final say on whether to launch a manned space mission would, it was claimed, be “terrifying”. The confirmation of Mr Trump’s nominee came despite Mr Bridenstine telling Congress in 2013 that “global temperatures stopped rising ten years ago.
The freediving Bajau people of Southeast Asia, however, are not your average people. Scientists have discovered the group of “sea nomads” may have developed genetic adaptations that allow them to free dive to depths of up to 230 ft. Bajau members report lasting up to thirteen minutes underwater in a single dive. For more than 1,000 years the Bajau have lived off of the seas in Southeast Asia.
The UK government has announced plans to ban the sale of many single-use plastic items, including plastic straws, drink stirrers, and plastic-stemmed cotton buds. Get ready for it now with this list of great eco-friendly alternatives that are already on the market. SEE ALSO: Plastic straws, cotton buds, and drinks stirrers could be banned in the UK According to the UK government,"There are over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans and every year one million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals die from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste". We all know that this level of waste is unsustainable and with the ban looking like it could apply as early as next year, it's a good time to start thinking about ways in which you can minimise your plastic waste. Cotton buds The hazards of plastic stemmed cotton buds have long been recognised. According to The Ecologist, "The plastic from cotton buds has been discovered in the stomachs of Loggerhead Turtles, seabirds and many species of UK-caught fish. The bits of plastic that aren't eaten get broken down into micro-plastics — of which the dangerous effects are still unknown". Do your bit for the world's waterways with these Simply Gentle organic cotton buds; produced on biodegradable paper stems with 100 percent organic cotton tips grown without artificial pesticides. Image: Amazon Simply Gentle organic cotton buds - Pack of 200. £2.99 See Details Drinking straws According to the recent UK Government report, "8.5 billion plastic straws are thrown away each year in the UK". Upgrading to an eco-friendlier lifestyle is easy by switching from petroleum-derived plastic straws to reusable natural bamboo straws. Dishwasher-friendly, durable, and reusable, these straws can be used for hot or cold drinks and even include a free cleaning brush. The straws are also compostable, so, they will never end up polluting the environment. If you prefer a more disposable option, these biodegradable black straws by Bendy Eco (pack of 250 for £4.99) are also a great alternative. Image: Amazon Reusable Biodegradable Bamboo Drinking Straws - £12.99 See Details Toothbrushes Plastic toothbrushes are a big contributor to pollution and these Amazon Choice bamboo toothbrushes are another way to keep plastic out of the ocean and landfill. The Tevra toothbrushes are 100% biodegradable and boast zero-waste packaging, which means everything is recyclable. The charcoal bristles are a good choice for and those who have sensitive gums but still want white teeth and also means you can avoid using chemical-laden whitening gels that can damage the enamel of your teeth. Tevra are so confident that you will love their toothbrushes that they are even offering a money-back guarantee. Why not also upgrade to natural toothpaste and dental floss while you are at it? Image: Amazon Tevra Biodegradable Bamboo Toothbrush with Charcoal Bristles - £10.86 See Details Sandwich wrappers Banish disposable cling film or foil with these reusable sandwich wrappers. BPA free, machine washable and adaptable to different shapes and sizes, there ain't no lunch these bad boys can't handle. Image: Amazon Roll'eat Boc'N'Roll Reusable Sandwich Wrapper - £7.95 See Details Bin Liners Plastic bags can take up to 1000 years to decompose. Unlike everyday plastic bin bags, these compostable bin liners will break down to CO2 and bio mass in 6-12 weeks depending on the composting conditions. They can contain up to 30 litres and are suitable for medium-sized pedal bins, garden waste, grass clippings, local authority kerbside waste bins and pretty much anything. Image: Ethical super store Compostable Bin Liners - 30 litre - Pack of 25. £10.65 See Details Napkins Table napkins can have a surprisingly significant environmental impact. According to Groundswell, "if 50% of the U.S. population (about 150MM people), used 1 paper napkin per meal 3 times a day, 164,250,000,000 (yes billion) napkins would be used over just a 1-year period." Selecting napkins that are made from recycled paper not whitened with chlorine bleach and can be composted after use can go along way to helping to combat this. These eco-friendly and biodegradable 2-ply napkins from Greencane made from sugarcane and sustainably sourced wood pulp are a step in the right direction. Image: Mashable Greencane 2-ply Napkins (100) £2.79 See Details Handcrafted Wireless Bamboo Keyboard Although not generally of single use, the quantity and speed that we discard consumer electronics has increased rapidly in recent years, fuelled by the industry-wide push on consumers to buy new items quickly by artificially reducing the lifespan of products. Discarded plastic electronic devices can produce large quantities of waste, so why not consider this handcrafted wireless bamboo keyboard or a biodegradable laptop case. Beautiful and stylish and one step closer to reducing your plastic footprint. Image: Amazon Handcrafted Wireless Bamboo Keyboard. £39.99 See Details Biodegradable Laptop case This case features mould-proof lining material, soft wear and scratch resistance flannel, and high quality grey felt for shock absorption. It's made using sustainable, chemical-free materials that are plastic-free and metal-free. Did we mention it’s biodegradable? Image: Amazon Inateck 15.4 Inch MacBook Pro Retina Case, biodegradable, with Small Case for Accessory - £15.99 See Details Reusable water bottles and coffee cups Single-use plastic water bottles and disposable coffee cups are definitely not helping the environment. It's time to seriously consider alternatives and the Miu Glass water bottle or Contigo Steel travel mug are some great options. Image: Amazon Glass Water Bottle, with Eco-friendly Borosilicate Glass Bottle, BPA, PVC, Plastic and Lead Free - £12.99 See Details Reusable Coffee Cup This cup made out of BPA free translucent tritan copolyester, with vacuum-insulated technology, keeps beverages hot for 4 hours and cold for 12 hours. You can also save money with the discount that many coffee outlets offer when you bring your own cup. Image: Amazon Contigo Autoseal West Loop Stainless Steel Travel Mug - £19.85 See Details