Most Earth Species Still Unknown

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on February 28th, 2013

Most Earth species still unknown—Brazil expert

SAO PAULO—The vast majority of the Earth’s estimated 13 million species are still unknown and to describe them all would take up to 2,000 years, according to a leading Brazilian scientist.

“We estimate that there are a total of around 13 million species (known and unknown) in the world,” Thomas Lewinsohn, a renowned professor of ecology at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in Sao Paulo state.

“Out of these, roughly 1.75 million species, including micro-organisms, plants, insects, bacteria and animals, have been described,” he told AFP in an interview.

And there is actually no consensus on the exact number of species, with experts relying on extrapolation based on known data.

Lewinsohn presented his findings at a forum organized here last week by FAPESP, a local research foundation focusing on Sao Paulo state’s biodiversity.

He said a major problem was a lack of data in countries with the greatest biodiversity such as Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Indonesia and South Africa.


About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.

5 Responses to “Most Earth Species Still Unknown”

  1. DWA responds:

    But an eight-foot bipedal ape? NO WAY.

    Actually, gang, far more time is being spent looking for the animals that are being referred to here than is being spent looking for the ape. Which would say something to anyone who applies serious thought to this.

    In science one is not allowed to presume anything. But many scientists do it, all the time, to the detriment of scientific progress.

    Yeah, that’s what the case against the ape amounts to: a presumption piled on a host of assumptions, the most prominent one being that if you aren’t a scientist your eyes can’t be trusted.

    Except if you are a scientist who saw one, in which case you can’t be trusted either.

    Sounds like science to me. Only Science would object.

  2. springheeledjack responds:

    Sent this info to the thread up above about science and the implausibility of bigfoot and other unknown creatures…

  3. Raiderpithicusblaci responds:

    Fascinating. As Dr Heuvelmans wrote, “The great days of zoology are not done.”

  4. Fhqwhgads responds:

    Such estimates are so uncertain as to be almost meaningless; about all that can be said is that there are a lot of undiscovered/unclassified organisms. Some of the “new discoveries” are the identification of previously unrecognized subspecies, or the assignment of previously recognized subspecies to separate, but closely related, species status. A hard-core biologist might find such reclassifications interesting, but to anybody else, this is boring trivia. Given that the vast majority of the unclassified species are bugs (either of the insect kind or the microorganism kind), they’re probably not very interesting to most folks.

    But no, this does not mean what you want to believe it means. When the character “Superman” was created in 1932, the population of earth was about 2 billion people, but not a single one of them could fly or were impervious to bullets. Today the population is up to about 7 billion, but still no one can fly or reasonably expect bullets to bounce off him. The big numbers don’t really make it “more likely” that a literal “Superman” is out there to be found. Likewise, how many unclassified insects there are in the Amazon or bacteria in the soil makes no difference whatsoever to whether or not there exists “an eight-foot bipedal ape” — or rather, several thousand of them in at least one undescribed species, though some true believers think several — loping around the USA.

    On a somewhat different topic, when I was a kid I sometimes played soccer. None of us were very good at it, and we didn’t exactly play by all the rules, but we all thought we had the essentials down. I haven’t played soccer for years now, but I have some ideas about how it should be played. Seriously, I think the game would be much better if they instituted some rules from basketball, suitably scaled up for the much larger field — specifically, I mean some kind of shot clock and an over-and-back rule. These rules saved basketball from being a boring, low-scoring sport, and I’m sure they would make soccer more appealing to Americans.

    In spite of all this I do not regularly denounce professional soccer players for not understanding soccer as well as I do, or for not implementing the changes I would like to see. I wouldn’t expect them to take me seriously if I did.

    But in the comments on this blog there are certain people who show evidence of understanding science as well as I understand soccer. Just as I played soccer in middle school, they presumably took science classes in high school, and probably required courses in college. They also have ideas for how things should be done and for changes they would like to see. However, they seem to actually think that the professionals should give a damn about their opinions and advice. Well, it doesn’t work that way.

  5. DWA responds:

    Once again:

    We just note when the professionals don’t do what they think they know they’re supposed to do.

    That word “belief.” Hurts my ears.

    This is about evidence.

    And the evidence, indeed, seems to say that some of us know A LOT more about what science is charged with doing than professional soccer players do.

    Or, er, right. Them too.

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