How Many Species on Earth - It’s Tricky
Scientists have named and cataloged 1.3 million species. How many more species there are left to discover is a question that has hovered like a cloud over the heads of taxonomists for two centuries.
“It’s astounding that we don’t know the most basic thing about life,” said Boris Worm, a marine biologist at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.
On Tuesday, Dr. Worm, Dr. Mora and their colleagues presented the latest estimate of how many species there are, based on a new method they have developed. They estimate there are 8.7 million species on the planet, plus or minus 1.3 million.
The new paper, published in the journal Public Library of Science Biology, is drawing strong reactions from other experts. “In my opinion this is a very important paper,” said Angela Brandt, a marine biologist at the University of Hamburg in Germany. But critics say that the method in the new paper can’t work, and that Earth’s true diversity is far greater.