A dried up place with nothing but miles of sand and scorching sun overhead, is this your idea of what a desert is? Nothing could be further from the truth! It is more than just a piece of arid land and is a very important part of the ecosystem. Did you know that about one-third of the total landmass of Earth is partially or totally desert? It is not really surprising as people have next to zero knowledge about deserts and their direct effect on other lifeforms. In reality, deserts are bustling with life contrary to mainstream belief and are very productive in their own way. Read on to know about some of the most amazing things there is about deserts!
21. Driest Place on Earth
Did you know that there are some parts of the Atacama desert in Chile where no rain has ever been recorded for over 40 million years? It is the driest place on Earth and yet over 1 million people live in Atacama! People extract water from aquifers and streams to grow crops and survive.
20. World’s Largest Desert
Yeah, that’s right, a desert doesn’t have to be hot. Scientifically desert is that place which loses more moisture than it gains. So theoretically, Antarctica is the largest desert in the world. As mentioned above that deserts are bustling with life, Antarctica contains some of the most exquisite animals and birds in its ecosystem like penguins, bears,etc.
19. Real Meaning of Desert
The real meaning of desert is “an abandoned place”. Nowadays, people confuse the meaning of desert as “dry or arid land with minimal rain”, which is far from the truth. Deserts have a large amount of plants and animals like cacti, palm, oasis, camels, llamas etc.
18. Actual Sand Percentage
You might be shocked to know that only 20% of the total deserts in the world are actually covered in sand! Cool, right? Others consist of dry solid rocks, snow, charred volcanic rocks, etc. It is a common myth that “desert=sand”, now you have something new to tell your friends about.
17. World’s Hottest Desert
Sahara is the hottest desert in the world with temperature reaching up to 49 degree Celsius! It is located in North Africa and stretches from Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. With very less amount of oasis and desert animals, it is one of the toughest places to survive.
16. Solar Energy Paradise
Desert are an amazing place for harvesting solar energy and converting it into much needed electricity. Many large corporations like Desertec Corp. and Brightsource Energy Corp. are making full use of the free sunlight and are providing a helping hand in making renewable energy a success.
15. Transition to Deserts
Desertification is one of the greatest problem being faced by over 168 countries. Due to excessive land degradation the once fertile lands are being converted into deserts, Shallow lakes, rivers, etc are the first one to be effected. Many factors like soil erosion, climate change, human factors, etc are the main culprits behind this rapid desertification.
14. Desert Marathon
Yes, humans are insane and here is the proof. Every year a marathon in the Sahara desert called “Ultramarathon” is organized in which desert lovers are invited for a 156 mile trek in the scorching heat. Thousands of people join this marathon and usually complete it in six days! Unsurprisingly, it is the toughest marathon on the planet.
13. Prickly Pear for Nourishment
If you are lost in a desert and have nothing to eat and drink then you are in luck! Prickly pear cactus is rich in water and nourishment. Though they are not very common, they do have a high water content which might save your life. But, be cautious as not all cactus or desert plants are life saviors, there are many plants which cause severe diarrhea and headaches.
12. Dinosaur Desert
Did you know that the first ever dinosaur eggs were found in the Gobi desert? An expedition led by American Museum of Natural History in 1923 culminated in the discovery of dinosaur eggs. Surely, deserts have contributed a lot to the history of the world.
11. Tough Tortoises
There is no denying that tortoises can adapt to the harshest of the climates, be it temperature exceeding over 140 degree Fahrenheit. But, very few people know that they can go without water for over a year! (mind=blown). They survive on small flowers and minimal water, far better than any desert animal. Camel who?
10. Dung Beetles
The scarab beetles are indispensable part of the desert life as they mostly survive on animal feces, “dung beetle” hence the name. They are totally dependent on feces as they build their burrows right next to a huge pile of dung. They roll the dung in small spheres and push it to their burrows for a feast. Nice life, huh?
9. Sahara Desert Snowfall
Shocked? Well, it’s true. In 1979, the heavens opened upon the Sahara desert and guess what? Instead of water, it was snow which graced the hottest desert in the world. Due to low pressure, Sahara experienced snowfall and the world shivered in fright because of the sudden drop in temperature over the world. It was a very unusual phenomenon and one of the rarest climate change in human history.
8. Amazon Gets Fertilized by Sahara
It is one of the craziest things in the world which happens on a daily basis. The winds carry sand from the Sahara desert all the way to the Amazon! The sands replenish the minerals in the Amazon and keep the rain-forest bustling with life. In other words, Sahara fertilizers Amazon daily. It is a miracle!
7. Camels in Arizona Desert
It is no brainer that camels live in deserts, but did you know that there are no camels in Arizona? Well they used to roam freely but American Civil War marked the end of these docile creatures. Due to various camel corps and regiments thrust into battle, very few camels survived and eventually died out. A typical human mistake paid for by the camels.
6. Camel Got a Job at Google
Yeah, a camel has a better chance at landing a job at Google than a human being. Google recently hired a camel named “Raffia” for a very important job of carrying their 360-degree trekker cameras to get a street view of Abu Dhabi’s Liwa oasis. The camel became the first creature to hold a 360-degree camera, which is usually carried by humans. All hail camel!
5. Sand Dunes in Alaska
Alaska is known for diverse climate and variety of flora and fauna. With over 70% of the place covered in snow, it does contain sand dunes! Yeah and not some regular dunes but the highest dunes in the world. With sand dunes reaching up to 45 meters in height, it is an oddity for Alaska.
4. Dust Tsunami
Due to soil erosion in deserts, winds pick up sand on the go and cause dust storms. Some of the dust storms are recorded to reach over 1 mile in height! Moreover, these sand storms travels at hundreds of miles an hour, much like tsunami. The vegetation is very less in deserts , so dust storms are pretty unchecked.
3. Hotness Redefined
There are some deserts which are so hot that when it rains, water gets vaporized even before hitting the ground! No wonder why people can’t survive in the harsh climate. No rain means no vegetation, which in turn effects the desert animals. Somehow both plants and animals have managed to adapt to the harsh climates and thrive in it without any help from the outside.
2. Estivation for Survival
Estivation is a type of hibernation which is practiced by the desert animals. To avoid the harsh sun many small desert animals like rodents go in a state of hibernation for survival in the long hot summer months. Estivation decreases their metabolic rate and keeps them safe throughout the summer without any food and water.
1. Nocturnal Lifestyle
Due to harsh climate many desert animals are night-crawlers. They sleep by the day and hunt in the night, this nocturnal ability has made them immune to desert climate. At night, it can get very cold in deserts and many animals have a small layer of fur to protect them from cold. Moreover, they have been granted night vision as well as speed for their survival.
Naturally, a desert is a very tough place for a human being and there are very few who actually survive. Praise and respect should be conferred upon the fauna which who adapt themselves to the harsh climates. Surely, there is no place where life can’t make its way!