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Scientific research. How much do all the wild mammals of the world weigh? Much less than domesticated ones

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All wild mammals inhabiting our planet weigh much less than domesticated ones, according to a study by scientists from Israel. They estimated the weight of the animals using artificial intelligence algorithms and checked which species weighed the most. As it turned out, the mass of people and species related to man exceeds the mass of wild mammals many times over.

Which wild mammals in the world weigh the most? To answer this question, scientists at the Weizman Institute of Science in Israel developed artificial intelligence algorithms that allowed them to delve into these important issues. As the study published in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” shows, these are neither huge elephants nor countless wild mice inhabiting fields and meadows – and this is not the end of surprises.

Deer heavier than elephants

To estimate the mass of the planet’s mammals, scientists trained and tested a machine learning system based on data on abundance, weight, range and other information on many animal species. The authors then entered information on approximately 4,400 mammal species into the model.

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According to calculations, wild land mammals now have a total mass of 22 million tons, and marine mammals account for another 40 million tons. This is relatively little, especially compared to invertebrates: ants alone weigh about 80 million tons in total. Interestingly, the largest part of the total biomass of wild land mammals, almost 10 percent, is accounted for by the white-tailed mule deer (Odocoileus virginianus), deer found in North America.

White-tailed mule deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are also called white-tailed deerShutterstock

On land, most of the wild mammal biomass is concentrated in a few large species, including wild boar, elephants, kangaroos and several types of deer. The top ten species weigh 8.8 million tons, which is 40 percent of the estimated global biomass of wild land mammals. Wild rodents account for 16 percent of this mass, and carnivores – 3 percent. Among marine mammals, baleen whales – a subgroup of cetaceans that also include fin whales – make up more than half of the biomass.

Common whale (reference photo)Shutterstock

“2.72 kilograms of wild land mammal per person”

Scientists decided to “weigh” not only wild species of mammals, but also those close to man. The body mass of all humans has been estimated at 390 million tons, while livestock, pets and other human-related mammals account for an additional 630 million tons. Cows alone weigh 420 million tons, and dogs about as much as all wild land mammals. The biomass of domestic cats is about twice that of African elephants and four times that of elk.

Many species that live close to humans weigh more than all African elephants combinedShutterstock

According to the scientists, the results of the research are clear evidence of how much the natural world has been dominated by man.

‘We can easily be tempted to imagine that nature is an infinite and inexhaustible resource,’ explains Ron Milo of the Weizmann Institute of Science and lead author of the study. – In fact, the weight of wild land mammals is less than 10 percent of the total weight of humanity, which is only about 2.72 kilograms of wild land mammal per person.

The authors add that such a quantitative picture of wildlife, juxtaposed with the gigantic biomass of humanity and its livestock, shows that we should not delay taking actions to protect nature. “I hope this will be a wake-up call for humanity that we should do everything we can to protect wild mammals,” adds Milo.

Global extinction of animalsPAP/AFP/Adam Ziemienowicz

Main photo source: Shutterstock



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