Facts for kids: Why do animals become extinct?

Why do animals become extinct

The Western Black Rhinoceros was hunted to extinction for its horns.

Since the dawn of life on Earth, at least 99.9 percent of all species have become extinct. The causes vary but the result is the same. Looking back into history, there have been five major events that have caused mass extinction. These were caused by meteorites, massive volcanic eruptions, a possible comet strike on the planet, and perhaps even a gamma ray burst.

If this sounds outlandish, consider the fact that scientists believe the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago by a meteorite that hit Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

But species generally become extinct as a result of less dramatic events. Researchers have found that species disappeared due to natural climate change, competition from other species, invasive species (such as cats eating native wildlife), and disease.

More worrying, however, are the causes of extinction that have become predominant in the last couple of hundred years. With a growing global population and consequent demand for food, fuel and resources, humans have played an ever increasing role in extinction. Loss of habitat and human predation have been disastrous for some species. Logging, industrialised fishing and farming, cities expanding into the countryside, poaching, pollution, and greedy hunting practices have all contributed to species either being wiped out or pushed to the brink of extinction.

Short answer: While nature has played a role in making species extinct, the greatest threat posed to animals and the environment in the twenty first century is humankind. A rapidly growing global population, combined with an appetite for the earth’s resources, is causing irreversible damage to nature.

Facts for kids: Why do I hiccup?

what causes hiccups

Charles Osborne had the hiccups from 1922 to 1990. He looks pretty angry about it.

Blame your epiglottis. The epiglottis is a fleshy barrier that separates the food and air tubes in your throat. The annoying sensation and noise of a hiccup is caused when your epiglottis shuts without warning. But you can’t blame the epiglottis without blaming the diaphragm as well.

The diaphragm is a muscle at the bottom of the chest that controls breathing. On occasion the diaphragm spasms, causing air to be sucked into the lungs and the epiglottis to close quickly. Spasms of a diaphragm can be caused by a variety of things, such as eating food too quickly, spicy foods, smoking, fizzy drinks, stress, and too much alcohol.

Short answer: There are over 100 causes of hiccups but we’re keeping it simple. If you’re like me, you get the hiccups because you eat too quickly. If you want to impress people at parties, tell them hiccups are also known as singultus. It is Latin for the act of catching one’s breath while sobbing.

Facts for kids: Why is my pee yellow?

yellow pee

Someone needs a few glasses of water.

Don’t panic. Your pee is yellow for a very good reason.

Your wee is yellow thanks to a pigment called urochrome. Urochrome is created after your liver processes and removes damaged or dead red blood cells. These cells live an average of 120 days in the bloodstream and have the job of transporting oxygen from the lungs to the cells of your body.

While there is nothing wrong with yellow wee, keep an eye out for orange or amber coloured liquid. This usually means your liver and kidneys are working overtime to rid your body of waste, such as urochrome and various bacteria. A few glasses of water will usually help change the colour back to something less scary. Water hydrates you, reduces the stress on your kidneys, and helps your body flush out the waste.

Short answer: Yellow pee is nothing to worry about. It usually means your body is simply ridding itself of waste. Drink lots of water and your pee should turn from yellow to clear. That’s the best coloured pee of all.