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Half the people that ever lived died of mosquitos? Shut up!

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752255.  Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:20 pm Reply with quote

Untutored Eye wrote:
Moosh wrote:
In Series 1 Episode 9 this was given as: So, two things to substantiate, one that "half the humans who have ever lived" can be convincingly put at 45 billion, and two that they died as a result of getting some disease after being bitten by a mosquito.

Anyone got any ideas?

A sealed fighting pit containg a human, a mosquito, a hippopotamus, and a duck.

Let's settle this for once and all.

I think we might have to put these creatures in the pit in proportion to their numbers on the planet. So, for one hippopotamus, assuming that animal to be the smallest in population, how many ducks, how many humans and how many mosquitoes? Off you go and do the maths...

Untutored Eye
752304.  Sat Oct 16, 2010 4:09 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:

I think we might have to put these creatures in the pit in proportion to their numbers on the planet. So, for one hippopotamus, assuming that animal to be the smallest in population, how many ducks, how many humans and how many mosquitoes? Off you go and do the maths...

Great. My first day at school and I have homework. You would be a hoot around the Colosseum.

Off to ponder the Diptera population...1...2...3...4...wait, thats a, this could take a while.

752652.  Sun Oct 17, 2010 9:28 am Reply with quote

eggshaped wrote:
For what it is worth, everything I could find about this subject on the internet referred back to the General Ignorance-book.

Here are some places on the first page of my google search that have quoted the fact and do not cite our book:

The Times
Wellcome Institute
Oregon Health & Science University
National Geographic

I don't have our source to hand, but you can see from the above that it is a fact that is fairly well attested. Maybe it's not true but I haven't found a debunking, and the OP falls short IMHO.

Irrespective of when you start to count "humans," the Malaria parasite has been around for well before homo sapiens, and even primates existed.

Where the quote is attributed at all, it is (as in the Times article above) attributed to the science writer, Natalie Angier. The quote appears in her article Parasites Take The Biological Spotlight, which appeared in the New York Times of July 17 1990, where she attributes it to one Dr. Dickson D. Despommier.

''Parasites have had a tremendous impact on human evolution, which we're only now beginning to appreciate,'' said Dr. Dickson D. Despommier, a professor of public health and microbiology at Columbia University. ''About half of all people who have ever lived on earth have died from malaria or malaria-related problems, and malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasite. That's an astonishing notion. The early American colony of Jamestown had to be re-established three times because of malaria.''
(appears on page 3 of the NYT article linked above).

Norman Castle
753789.  Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:38 pm Reply with quote

Not very many people have ever died from mosquitoes.

It's usually the Malaria parasites that kill them.

753917.  Fri Oct 22, 2010 6:32 am Reply with quote

That's what I've always argued. Mosquitoes don't kill anybody. They only serve as the vectors for the real deadly organisms.

753937.  Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:33 am Reply with quote

Mosquitos don't kill people, guns do :)

753941.  Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:42 am Reply with quote

Guns don't kill people - it's americans who kill people.


753968.  Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:45 am Reply with quote

I used to assume that "God" created mosquitoes for a reason - that they had an impt place in the ecology. But latest thinking by the biologists suggests that they don't play any impt role in the ecosystem that wouldn't be taken up by small flies etc

So, "God" was just having a bad day then...

753972.  Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:54 am Reply with quote

....and to put another spaniel in the works, it has also emerged recently that malaria transmitting mosquitos are evolving into seperate species

753976.  Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:11 am Reply with quote

A sort of "Campaign for Malarian Independance"?


753979.  Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:14 am Reply with quote

I was thinking Malarial People's Front and the People's Front of Malaria.


753985.  Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:25 am Reply with quote

Give it a minute or two and the crack Malarian Suicide Sqad will be along.

Which reminds me of the post-SDSR gallows humour that's going around the office at the moment, the best example being:

"Last night I was getting so depressed at the thought of being thrown on the scrapheap that I was having thoughts of suicide, so I called the samaritans. Being that it was out of hours I was put through to a call centre in Pakistan. When they heard I was suicidal they got very excited. They asked if I knew my way around London and if I could drive a truck..."

Not very PC, but then we're not in the mood for PC. Anyone on the market for the absolute top-of-the-range in snow-clearing equipment? Even if we get another two-foot drop of snow your trusty Harrier GR9 snowblower will soon have your roads cleared.

Or perhaps you have some urgent packages to be couriered. Try The BAE Harrier door-to-door service - for when it absolutely, positively, has to be there within the hour and you don't care what it does to your front lawn...

OK, I'll stop there.


PS - I'm Brian

754027.  Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:41 am Reply with quote

I'm Brian, and so is my wife

Is there a Godwin's law referring to Python quotes?

754050.  Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:28 pm Reply with quote


754091.  Fri Oct 22, 2010 2:16 pm Reply with quote

Yeah, but have you got any monster trucks?


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