October 3, 2009

Top 10 species are: 1. Earthworms, 2. Algae, 3. Cyanobacteria...

What's so great about earthworms?
4. Rhizobia
5. Lactobacillus
6. Homo sapiens
7. Stony corals
8. Yeast
9. Influenza
10. Penicillium
Aw, come on. If we'd started with anything else — with the possible exception of stony corals — you wouldn't have paid any attention.

17 comments:

Crimso said...

By including viruses in their rankings of "life," they have no credibility. I can't define "living," but I know it when I see it, and viruses are most definitely neither alive nor dead (a term which would imply "alive at one time").

Jason (the commenter) said...

I'm kind of shocked they beat out algae and cyanobacteria for the top spot. I think I see some bias towards land based organisms.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Crimso: By including viruses in their rankings of "life," they have no credibility. I can't define "living," but I know it when I see it

I would caution against being so extreme. "Life" isn't a very scientific term, it's more descriptive. As long as the person using the term is consistent it's okay with me.

In some ecosystems a large percentage of the biomass is made up by viruses and biologists study viruses, so why not include them?

Bissage said...

I am absolutely shocked that The Rolling Stones came in at only eighty-ninth.

Horace said...

See more (much more ;)) on earthworms here: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&oi=video_result&ct=res&cd=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dmkm3CCX1_xk&ei=LIPHSpOQOoKZ8AbO2KHhCA&usg=AFQjCNHzz5IRRpcOiDlKbfBbOgUVXWOy4Q&sig2=GodKEcIHorMdB2aV2Laqdw

David said...

The cockroach is nowhere to be found on this list? That has to be racist.

Paddy O. said...

What does Andy Williams think about this list?

edutcher said...

I was going to be angry, but, hey, at least we beat out yeast and the flu.

Sofa King said...

This is simply outrageous. I propose we leverage our chief evolutionary advantage, our cleverness, to figure out how to wipe the superior species off the face of the Earth. Then we'll see who's number 1!

Joan said...

I'd think that rhizobia would have to be first. It's the bacteria that "fixes" nitrogen, and without it, there would be no plant life. Without plant life, all that's left is chemoautotrophs, a very tiny set of bacterias. "Rhizobia" even means root of life.

Earthworms, yeah. We don't like to think much about the similarities between our species and worms, but basically both are just a bunch of organs of varying complexity arranged around an alimentary canal.

Alex said...

I'm pretty sure ants should rank up there, no?

Cedarford said...

To rank species he judged each life form on longevity, the impact it has had on the planet, evolutionary success and geographical spread.

Just another bogus list.

Objectively, you would have to start with blue-green algae, which transformed the planet and allowed all other forms of life except cyanobacteria to exist. That form the largest biomass on the planet by far, and which are present in every biological niche in the planet except where no energy from solar radiation penetrates. Arctic and Antarctic? Yep, blue-green algae is there. Nuclear reactor coolant? Yes, strains have been found there. The dryest, most extreme temp varying desert (in Chile) - yep, it's there, too.

I also did't notice fungi, which are almost as ubquitous as algae. Around almost as long, and which affect - like bacteria - every other lifeform. And who currently hold the record for longevity of life (Canadians ID'd a fungi ring started from a single spore that has lived for 30,000 years so far..)

kynefski said...

How dense do you have to be to rank algae ahead of cyanobacteria? It's like making a list of the most important industrial achievements and ranking automobiles ahead of the internal combustion engine.

dbp said...

Viruses are not normally considered a life form since they do not have a metabolism of their own.

All they can do is trick actual living things into making more copies of the virus.

Cedarford said...

kynefski said...
How dense do you have to be to rank algae ahead of cyanobacteria? It's like making a list of the most important industrial achievements and ranking automobiles ahead of the internal combustion engine.

Because automobiles where transformative in a way internal combustion, steam engines for pumping out a mine, weren't.
Besides arguing engines, you could also say "making cheap steel" or "forming rubber tires" was more important than the automobile..as a transformative agent...but they are just building blocks.
As was cyanobacteria.
Remember, algae not only form the base on which all subsequent oxygen-consuming life depends on, which all other more advanced life eveloved from....it also "beat" anaerobic bacteria and drove it into surviving in just very narrow, small niches.

dbp said...

A couple of other problems with the list:

1. Lactobacillus is really only significant because of their use in the dairy industry, which would not exist without humans.

2. Homo sapiens are 6 on the list but are the only actual species. All the rest on the list are various groupings at different levels above species.

wv rudernet: Not so polite as this internet

Crimso said...

"In some ecosystems a large percentage of the biomass is made up by viruses and biologists study viruses, so why not include them?"

Well, biologists (and nonbiologists) also study mitochondria, which are much closer to being "alive" than are viruses (and I assume from your posts that you're familiar with the endosymbiont theory, which is a whole subject unto itself; the Althillbillies are starting to get nervous about all them big words). Then again, I'm a racist, so keep that in mind. ;)

The relative dearth of responses to the post suggest our interest is atypical of the hillbillies. Too bad there's not a Palin angle...

TW: upstill: hell yeah. It's only 7 pm.