According to a new survey of the Earth’s biomass, plants make up 80 percent of all carbon stored in living creatures. Bacteria make up 13 percent, and fungus comes third at 2 percent. And as for humans? All 7.6 billion of us account for just one ten thousandth (1/10,000th) of the biomass on Earth.
“The fact that the biomass of fungi exceeds that of all animals’ sort of puts us in our place,” Harvard evolutionary biologist James Hanken told AP News. Despite our relatively tiny stake on Earth, humans have had a massive effect on its fellow creatures. Since civilization began, according to the study, which was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, since civilization, humans have cut the total weight of plants by half and wild mammals by 85 percent.
Domesticated animals now outweigh wild mammals by 14 to 1, and chickens are triple the weight of all of wild birds. Scientists spent three years combing through earlier research that surveyed at biomass for different types of life to determine the latest results. They factored in environmental issues like climate, geography to come up with the new numbers. Their ultimate goal, according to Science magazine, wasn’t to figure out how much life weighs, but to discover the most abundant protein on the planet.
While researchers still trying to resolve that question, what’s less difficult to resolve is how much of an impact humanity has on the world. Maybe children’s books should feature fewer lions and elephants and tigers, and a more honest representation of animals on earth: “a cow next to another cow, next to another cow next to a chicken,” lead author of the study, Ron Milo told AP News.
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