SA's natural Guinness World Records

2013-01-23 14:48

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South Africa has earned a Guinness World record as the country with the most officials languages – but that’s not the sum total of our uniqueness. Take a look at these six natural records that have placed us in the most authoritative list when it comes to world records…

1. Oldest confirmed impact on earth
Who: Gary Byerly
What: Oldest confirmed impact on Earth
When: 23 Jan 2002

In 23 August 2002 a team of US scientists led by Gary Byerly (Louisiana State University) and Donald Lowe (Stanford University) announced their discovery of a 3.47-billion-year-old asteroid impact on Earth. They had studied ancient rock samples from Australia and South Africa and analysed the spherules contained within. These tiny particles are a common byproduct of meteoritic impact and were used to date the impact, along with local zircon crystals. The 20-30 cm-thick (8-12 inches) spherule beds in the rock indicate that the impacting body had a rough diameter of around 20 km (12 miles) across. However, no crater has been found as Earth's geological processes have had plenty of time to erase it. Although many impacts would have occurred prior to this, including the postulated impact of a Mars-sized body with the early Earth, this is the oldest impact that has direct evidence from geological samples.

2. The smallest ostrich
Who: Pawel Kanigowski
What: Smallest ostrich living (height)
When: 15 Jul 2011

It’s  living (height) is 127 cm tall (50 inches), achieved by Tom Thumb, an adult male African ostrich (South Africa) based at the Cape Town Ostrich ranch, Cape Town, South Africa, on 15 July 2011. Tom Thumb is fully grown and measures 57cm from ground to the patella when standing and 51cm from base of neck to base of head ie: length of neck. The average male ostrich is usually 1.8 - 2.7 meters / 6 - 9 feet tall, while female ostriches are 1.7 - 2 meters / 5.5 - 6.5 ft tall.


3. Most expensive diamond per carat
Who: Sotheby's
What: Most expensive diamond per carat
When: 12 May 2009

The record per carat is $1,375,938 (£854,705), for a 7.03-carat fancy vivid blue modified rectangular brilliant-cut diamond sold at Sotheby's, Geneva, Switzerland, on 12 May 2009. The total which it sold for was given in Swiss francs = CHF 10,498,500 or £6,000,000 ($9,959,000). The diamond was cut from an original stone, which weighed 26.58 carats, discovered in the Cullinan mine in Gauteng Province of South Africa, the same mine that produced the largest rough diamond in the world, from which was cut the Great Star of Africa, which is part of the Crown Jewels.

4. The world´s rarest chameleon
Who: Smith’s dwarf chameleon (Bradypodion taeniabronchum)
What: Rarest chameleon
When: 01 Jan 2010

Known as the Smith´s dwarf chameleon (Bradypodion taeniabronchum). Classed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN, it is limited to an area not exceeding 5,850 km² (2,258 mi2), within which its area of occupancy is estimated as 400 km² (154 mi2) near Algoa Bay in South Africa.

Most dangerous shark

Who: White shark
What: Most dangerous shark
When: 01 Jan 1999

The most deadly shark is the white shark which since 1900 until 1999 has caused 251 out of the 1860 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks on humans, 66 of which resulted in fatalities - the highest number for any species of shark.
The number of unprovoked white shark attacks has increased dramatically from under 10 between 1900 and 1930s, to over 50 in the 1980s and 1990s. The major areas of attacks are the west coast of the USA (particularly California), Australia and South Africa. The majority of attacks are on males, with 93% of unprovoked white shark attacks being on males and 5% on females, whilst the sex of the remaining 2% of the vicitms cannot be determined.

6. Largest herd of mammals
The jury's still out on the details of this one according to the Guinness World Record website, but it seems the largest herds on record are those of the springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) during migration across the plains of western parts of southern Africa in the 19th century. In 1849 John (later Sir John) Fraser observed a mass migration that took three days to pass through the settlement of Beaufort West, Western Cape, South Africa.

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