Most people know that the blue whale is the largest animal in the world and the African elephant is the largest land animal.
You may know that the blue whale is the largest animal that ever lived on Earth.
But did you know about the whole slew of other amazing and unusual giants that once appeared on our planet?
Find out about some of these king-sized creatures:
Paraceratherium, the Largest Land Mammal
Paraceratherium was about 18 feet tall (from ground to shoulder) and about 25 feet long (not including its tail). Its skull was between 4 and 7 feet long. Estimates of its weight range from 8 to 20 tons.
The largest land mammal to ever live on Earth, Paraceratherium was as big as a large dinosaur and four times as large as a modern elephant.
The name Paraceratherium is Greek for “like a horned animal” – a reference to the fact that it was like a rhinoceros, but hornless.
It lived in Asia between 37 million and 23 million years ago.
Fossils of Paraceratherium have been found in Pakistan, India, Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia.
Paraceratherium is also known as Baluchitherium (sometimes spelled Baluchiterium), for the province of Baluchistan in …
Groundwater is water beneath the Earth’s surface. We don’t often think about groundwater, as we usually can’t see it. However, groundwater makes up 94 percent of all the liquid freshwater on Earth, and is the largest source of available freshwater for living things. (Most of the Earth’s freshwater is glacial ice.) This means that it’s very important to have sources of unpolluted groundwater.
Where does groundwater come from?
When rain falls, some of the water evaporates and some water becomes runoff, eventually forming rivers and streams. The rest of the water soaks into the ground.
Some of this water forms a film over the surface of the soil. Plants use this water for nourishment. They then return some of it, through their leaves, stems and flowers, back into the air. The process by which plants return water to the atmosphere is known as transpiration. Some of the water on top of the soil evaporates directly into the air.
The rest of the water percolates downward into the Earth, where it collects in spaces between particles of sediment and in fractures in bedrock. It continues to move downward until there is an area where every open space is filled …
The smallest streams and the largest rivers come from precipitation – rain, snow, hail, or sleet. Whenever there is precipitation over land, some of the water that falls on the ground soaks into the soil, but the rest of it stays on the surface, where gravity carries it downslope. The water that stays on top of the soil is known as runoff. The more impermeable the surface, the more runoff there is compared to the amount of water that soaks into the ground. The proportion of precipitation that becomes runoff is particularly high in urban areas with large amounts of concrete.
Runoff begins as broad, thin sheets. These sheets may erode the surface, creating tiny channels known as rills. When rills come together, they form gullies. When gullies join, the water in them combines to form a stream. Conventionally, very small streams are known as brooks or creeks, while very large streams are called rivers. A river can have many streams or other rivers, known as tributaries, flowing into it.
A river system includes a river, all of its tributaries and its drainage basin – the area of land where all the water …
Mass wasting is the movement of soil, rock and regolith (the loose dust and other material that covers rock) downslope because of the force of gravity. It can be slow and imperceptible, or it can be abrupt and violent.
Because the Earth’s surface is constantly changing, with mountains rising higher because of forces within the Earth, mass wasting is always taking place. If the height of a mountain or hill never changed, once all of the debris at the top fell to the bottom, mass wasting would stop.
When mass wasting occurs rapidly, it is sometimes called a landslide.
Triggers of Mass Wasting
Mass wasting follows weathering, the breaking up of rock by mechanical or chemical means. After weathering creates debris, mass wasting moves the debris downslope. While both mass wasting and erosion involve the movement of debris from one place to another, erosion requires a medium, such as wind, water or glacial ice, to transport the debris. Mass wasting does not.
Instead, mass wasting requires an event, known as a trigger. Mass wasting occurs in places where slopes have weakened progressively. However, until a trigger occurs, inertia continues to hold the materials on the slope in …
I’m Marcia Malory. I’m fascinated by the universe around me, and how everything in it works. I created Earth Facts to share some of what I’ve learned about my tiny, yet special planet.
I became a freelance science writer after spending many years in the corporate world. I'm from New York City, but now I live in York, England, a beautiful ancient city.