50 Crazy-Wonderful Things About the Earth (and Its Creatures) to Be Grateful for!

04/15/2015 03:16 pm ET | Updated Jun 15, 2015

Facts about Earth

I know, everyone is busy. But stop for a few minutes and consider just how amazing and magical our planet really is. This is an especially good time to consider the crazy-wonderfulness of Earth, with Earth Day and the Earth Gratitude Wave both on the 22nd.

It's never too early to feel grateful, which is why I made this list. Share it with your kids! (Many of the facts here came from the Weird but True! books by National Geographic Kids, which my youngest LOVES!)

50 Crazy-Wonderful Things about Earth to Be Grateful for:

1. There are 8.6 million lightning strikes in a day (and when lightning strikes, the air around it gets five times hotter than the sun!).

2. Around 70 percent of the world's surface is ocean, which is responsible for producing more than half of the oxygen we breathe.

3. About 97 percent of all the water on Earth is saltwater.

4. There are 5 million living organisms in teaspoon of seawater...but who's counting?

5. Meanwhile, a tablespoon of soil contains more than 1 billion living organisms!

6. Earth has the same amount of water now as it did 100 million years ago.

7. But...if you rolled all the water on Earth into a ball, it would be less than a third the size of the moon!

8. Some storm systems in the sky can hold more water than the Mississippi river.

9. The oldest tree on Earth is nearly 5,000 years old--about as old as the pyramids of Egypt!

10. The earth is constantly in motion. New York and London are moving 2.5 centimeters apart from each other every year, and Hawaii is moving 10 centimeters closer to Japan each year.

11. In the past five minutes, the earth traveled more than 5,000 miles. Weeeee!

12. It would take 33 million people holding hands around the equator to make a full circle. Let's do it! (Just kidding.)

13. We think we humans are so strong and special, but a caterpillar has more muscles than a human.

14. Leeches have 32 brains!

15. Slugs have 3,000 teeth and four noses!

16. Butterflies can taste with their feet (which is good because they have no mouths) and hear with their wings.

17. Some butterflies drink turtle tears...awwww!

18. Octopuses have three hearts--all the more to love with!

19. Not to be outdone...earthworms have five hearts!

20. Some fish can change from female to male, and oysters can change from male to female.

21. Sharks have more senses than humans. They have eight; we have five.

22. Humpback whale songs can become "hits" and sweep across the ocean.

23. A bottlenose dolphin has a brain bigger than yours.

24. Rabbits can see behind them without moving their heads.

25. In case you think insects don't have feelings, ladybugs squirt smelly liquid from their knees when they get scared. Poor things!

26. If you thought time was getting faster, you may be wrong--the earth's rotation slows by 1.5 milliseconds every century.

27. Fifty-five million years ago, palm trees grew at the North Pole...hmmmm.

28. A palm tree isn't really a tree; it's a type of grass!

29. Earth is the only planet in our solar system not named after a mythological god or goddess. The word "earth" comes from the Old English word "ertha," meaning ground or land.

30. The rosy periwinkle flower is used in drugs for cancer treatment and has helped increase survival rates for childhood leukemia from 10 percent to 95 percent.

31. Mangrove forests help protect us from storms and other major weather events.

32. A typical forest can store up to 30,000 metric tons of carbon per square kilometer. Seagrasses can store more than 80,000 metric tons per square kilometer.

33. Bees are responsible for pollinating more than 75 percent of the leading global food crops.

34. Pandas eat 36 pounds of bamboo...every day.

35. A single bat can eat up to 1,200 mosquito-size insects an hour (and 3,000 a night!)

36. 1.9 billion years ago, the earth smelled a lot like rotten eggs. ICK! Let's be thankful that's no longer the case.

37. People throw away enough ribbon a year to tie a bow around the earth. How about using biodegradable ribbon instead?

37. Earthquakes can instantly create gold in the earth's crust!

38. There is enough gold in the center of the earth to coat the planet in 1.5 feet of gold!

39. 90 percent of all volcanic activity occurs in the oceans.

40. The Great Barrier Reef is the biggest living structure on Earth. Go, Australia!

41. And yet, the Sahara desert is bigger than all of Australia.

42. Bees need about 5 million flowers to make one jar of honey. Plant flowers, people!

43. If you weigh all the earthworms in the United States, they weigh more than 10 times the total human population. Wow!

44. At least 1 quadrillion ants live on Earth (that's 15 zeros behind a 1).

45. There are more than 1,900 edible types of insects on Earth...(just in case you get hungry.)

46. Half of the world's land is still wilderness. That's awesome!

47. Looking back: 400 million years ago, mushrooms grew really, really tall--taller than a giraffe!

48. Around 15 tons of dry soil per acre pass through one earthworm each year, and 1,400,000 earthworms can be found in one acre of cropland.

49. There's a type of "immortal" jellyfish capable of regenerating and living forever.

Have a happy Earth Day next Wednesday, everyone! Tell us what you are grateful for! #EarthGratitude!


For more from Maria Rodale, visit