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Growth of Human Populations

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What is Success?

What is Success?

License: CC BY-NC 3.0

What is success? It depends on how you measure it. Does success mean having the most money? Being the happiest? Living the longest? Leaving behind the most offspring? There are many ways to measure success in biology also.

Amazing But True!

  • There are many more of us than there ever were (heck, there are about twice as many of us as there were 45 years ago). If biological success is measured in population growth, humans may well be on top. Animal populations probably grow so fast globally after a mass extinction has wiped out the previous world inhabitants. But there are many ways to measure success.
  • Lots of people say that dinosaurs were the most successful type of organism ever. Dinosaurs ruled the planet for far longer than humans have so far.  They were a lot larger. Were dinosaurs the most successful? If not, then what?

Explore More

With the links below, learn more about ways to measure success. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What are some of the ways we could define biological success?
  2. By what measure (size, diversity, length of time on Earth) were dinosaurs the most successful group of animals that ever lived?
  3. With more than 7 billion people, are humans the most successful animal in terms of numbers? Why or why not?
  4. Do humans have the greatest effect on other organisms?
  5. How do we compete with other animals in terms of longest time on Earth? Do we have a much of a chance to win that one?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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