A few quick biology questions

Lou Bjostad lbjostad at ceres.agsci.colostate.edu
Fri Feb 25 19:49:46 EST 1994

In article <CLsx43.MzE at hawnews.watson.ibm.com>, cliff at watson.ibm.com
(cliff) wrote:
> I had a few quick questions for which I'm gathering information.
> I'm hoping they may stimulate young people studying biology.
> Thanks, Cliff
> 1.  Given a large ark containing 2 individuals of every animal species          
> in the world, what would be the approximate total weight of all the             
> organisms? (Is this more than the weight of the Empire State Building
> in New York City?) How would your answer differ if you included every
> plant, bacterial, and fungal organism? 

Most metazoans are insects (about 0.1 gram per individual), and there are
about 1 million insect species.  This is about 100 kg, which is not much. 
The blue whales would clearly be your champions in the weight department. 
My late-Friday-afternoon recollection of the whale specimen in the
Smithsonian is that it was about 10 meters long and about 3 meters wide,
which is 10x3x3 = 100 cubic meters of mostly water.  One cubic centimeter
of water is a gram, so a cubic meter is 100x100x100 =1 million grams, and
100 cubic meters gives me about 100 million grams.  I'm somewhere between
an insect and a whale, and I'm only 50-100 kg.

If I assume all the other animals are worth about 10 whales, I'm probably
not far off.  This gives me one billion grams.

Lou Bjostad
Fort Collins, Colorado
lbjostad at ceres.agsci.colostate.edu

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