Life expectancy without modern medicine, mapping the Antarctic and how an inclusive workplace brings financial benefits. Our round-up of provoking thoughts, penetrating insights and digital curiosities.

Our natural lifespan: 38 years

Without the miracles of modern medicine, the average human lifespan would be a mere 38 years, according to new scientific research. Longevity would not be so great were it not for advancements in the standard of living and medical care, according to The Conversation. Scientists used a new method to analyse DNA of different species, finding clues about the ageing process and how long each species was likely to live. They found that the woolly mammoth would have lived around 60 years, while bowhead whales could clock up more than 250 years of longevity – much longer than previously thought.

Read more: The right healthcare: A decisive factor in successful ageing

Inclusion has financial benefits for business

Inclusion in the workplace brings tangible value to business, according to the Harvard Business Review. A new study found that a sense of belonging and being included was linked to an increase in performance and a 75% reduction in employee sick days. This equates to an annual saving of more than $52m for a 10,000-person strong company. The researchers also conducted an experiment that found people who felt excluded made less effort in a teamwork task. They suggested strategies that companies can adopt to foster inclusion in the workplace, including mentoring and inviting employee feedback, then acting on it.

Read more: Normalising diversity: From box-ticking to benefits

Mapping the Antarctic to predict climate change

The most accurate map yet of the Antarctic ice sheet could help scientists assess the impact of climate change, Science Daily reports. A team of geologists at the University of California have mapped details of the ice sheet’s topography that have not been seen before, including the world’s deepest land canyon. The map shows that ice streams in some areas are protected by their underlying ground features, while others are more at risk from potential ice sheet instability. This could help make more accurate projections for rising sea levels.

Read more: Financing brown to green: Guidelines for transition bonds

Greenland ice melting seven times faster

Greenland’s ice is melting seven times faster than during the 1990s, potentially putting millions more people in low-lying coastal regions at risk of flooding. The BBC says that an international team of scientists think an additional 7cm of rising sea levels could be attributed to Greenland alone. It is estimated that around one billion people live less than 10cm above current high-tide lines, many of whom could be affected.

Read more: Greenland’s rapid melting is a hugely underplayed story

Chinese city launches facial recognition for commuters

The Chinese city of Zhengzhou has begun using facial recognition technology to allow commuters to pay for their subway journeys, the South China Morning Post reports. Since trials began in September, more than 200,000 people have authorised the payment method via an app, it says, citing a local report. Other Chinese cities are experimenting with the technology for its transport system, but Zhengzhou is the first to roll it out across its entire subway network. There are nonetheless concerns over data security and privacy, the newspaper says.

Read more: How close are we to a cashless society?