“The dog ate my homework.”

Believe it or not that was once a legitimate excuse for not having your homework ready to show the teacher, right before Hollywood made it a cliche.

It's no longer legitimate in the computer age however, as paper is out and email is in.

The new age excuse, therefore, should be “a cockatoo ate my Internet”.

It sounds ridiculous that a rapacious bird – perhaps mistaking an exposed internet cable for a worm – could prevent a schoolkid from submitting an assignment, an executive submitting a report, or even a traveller from checking a map on their phone, but it's more likely than you think.

Every 30 minutes, a terrestrial cable is damaged by any number of factors: construction workers, vehicles, vandalism, equipment failures, severe weather and, yes, cockatoos.

Submarine cables – which connect every continent bar Antarctica to each other and tie those terrestrial networks together to create that World Wide Web we all use – are damaged an average of every three days by such outside factors as fishing, dropped anchors, icebergs, drills, dredges, earthquakes and even fish bites.

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