Ranked: The Life Expectancy of Humans and 49 Other Animals
For most of history, average life expectancy at birth for humans has stood around 30 years. But thanks to recent breakthroughs in technology and modern medicine, humans are now born with an average life expectancy closer to 80 years.
Some might argue this is one of mankind’s greatest achievements. With this rise in life expectancy, how do human lifespans now rank compared to other animals?
This graphic from Alan’s Factory Outlet covers the life expectancy of 50 different animals ranging from amphibians to arthropods, and even includes one species that’s immortal (well, in theory).
Let’s take a closer look at lifespans in the animal kingdom.
The Longest Living Things
Here are some of the longest living animals, where even with advancements in modern medicine, humans are likely far off from matching.
The Deep-Sea Tube Worm
The deep-sea tube worm, also known as Riftia pachyptila, lives until about 250 years old, though in some cases this can stretch much further.
Amazingly, they have no digestive system, mouth, or anus, and thus do not consume food to survive in a traditional sense. Instead, the bacteria living inside their bodies helps to transform the sulfur from nearby hydrothermal vents into energy.
This makes the deep-sea tube worm one of the few animals on Earth that does not derive its nutrients (either directly or indirectly) from sunlight.
The Immortal Jellyfish
The immortal jellyfish, otherwise known as Turritopsis dohrnii, is biologically immortal.
How is this possible?
Essentially, these creatures revert and transition backwards from sexual maturity towards sexual immaturity in a process called transdifferentiation—where adult cells are converted into other types of tissue. Not surprisingly, processes like these are getting plenty of human attention in gene therapy and scientific research.
Giant Barrel Sponge
The giant barrel sponge can live for 2,300 years. These cool creatures live on the reef surface of the ocean, and are bowl shaped, which provides habitat for many other invertebrates including crabs, shrimps, as well as fish. In addition, sponges have no tissue and each of their individual cells can do the same job of any other cell.
Some experiments have even shown sponges reform and have their cells swim back together when blended up in a blender. If they didn’t, that would be a very cruel experiment.
Human Lifespans: A Rising Trend To Watch
The number of centenarians—those 100 or more years old—stands at 570,000 today.
Here are the countries where they are most common compared to their respective populations.
|Country/Region||% Of Population|
While figures in the one-hundredth of a percent range may sound underwhelming, this is still a 1,500% jump from the 33,000 centenarians that lived in the 1950s.
Slowly but surely, as human life expectancy continues to grow, our species seems destined to climb up the age ladder—and who knows, we may even be able to eventually live beyond some of the other creatures on this list.
The Anthropocene: A New Epoch in the Earth’s History
We visualize Earth’s history through the geological timeline to reveal the planet’s many epochs, including the Anthropocene.
The Anthropocene: A New Epoch in the Earth’s History
Over the course of Earth’s history, there have been dramatic shifts in the landscape, climate, and biodiversity of the planet. And it is all archived underground.
Layers of the planet’s crust carry evidence of pivotal moments that changed the face of the Earth, such as the ice age and asteroid hits. And scientists have recently defined the next major epoch using this geological time scale—the Anthropocene.
In this infographic we dig deep into the Earth’s geological timeline to reveal the planet’s shift from one epoch to another, and the specific events that separate them.
Understanding the Geological Timeline
The Earth’s geological history is divided into many distinct units, from eons to ages. The time span of each varies, since they’re dependent on major events like new species introduction, as well as how they fit into their parent units.
|Geochronologic unit||Time span||Example|
|Eon||Several hundred million years to two billion years||Phanerozoic|
|Era||Tens to hundreds of millions of years||Cenozoic|
|Period||Millions of years to tens of millions of years||Quaternary|
|Epoch||Hundreds of thousands of years to tens of millions of years||Holocene|
|Age||Thousands of years to millions of years||Meghalayan|
Note: Subepochs (between epochs and ages) have also been ratified for use in 2022, but are not yet clearly defined.
If we were to cut a mountain in half, we could notice layers representing these changing spans of time, marked by differences in chemical composition and accumulated sediment.
Some boundaries are so distinct and so widespread in the geologic record that they are known as “golden spikes.” Golden spikes can be climatic, magnetic, biological, or isotopic (chemical).
Earth’s Geological Timeline Leading Up to the Anthropocene
The Earth has gone through many epochs leading up to the modern Anthropocene.
These include epochs like the Early Devonian, which saw the dawn of the first early shell organisms 400 million years ago, and the three Jurassic epochs, which saw dinosaurs become the dominant terrestrial vertebrates.
Over the last 11,700 years, we have been living in the Holocene epoch, a relatively stable period that enabled human civilization to flourish. But after millennia of human activity, this epoch is quickly making way for the Anthropocene.
|Epoch||Its start (MYA = Million Years Ago)|
|Anthropocene||70 Years Ago|
The Anthropocene is distinguished by a myriad of imprints on the Earth including the proliferation of plastic particles and a noticeable increase in carbon dioxide levels in sediments.
A New Chapter in Earth’s History
The clearest identified marker of this geological time shift, and the chosen golden spike for the Anthropocene, is radioactive plutonium from nuclear testing in the 1950s.
The best example has been found in the sediment of Crawford Lake in Ontario, Canada. The lake has two distinct layers of water that never intermix, causing falling sediments to settle in distinct layers at its bed over time.
While the International Commission on Stratigraphy announced the naming of the new epoch in July 2023, Crawford Lake is still in the process of getting approved as the site that marks the new epoch. If selected, our planet will officially enter the Crawfordian Age of the Anthropocene.
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