Animal kingdom is smaller than we thought (but that’s good news) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/animal-kingdom-is-smaller-than-we-thought-but-thats-good-news-8466082.html
How many species are there?
It was a question that fascinated Charles Darwin, and generations of biologists who followed him, with recent estimates ranging from a few million to as many as 100 million – now scientists believe the true number of animals and plants is nearer to 5 million
The incredible diversity of life on Earth and the sheer scale of the taxonomic problem have mesmerised biologists trying to figure out the total number of living species. But a group of biologists believes the actual number is considerably smaller than previously estimated. A significantly lower estimate for the total number of animals and plants on the Earth today has important implications for estimating how many species are going extinct, as well as the success of attempts to conserve wildlife, the scientists said.
They also believe that because there are only about 5 million species, rather than there being 10 or 20 times this number, there is a realistic prospect of being able to identify and catalogue most of these organisms by the end of the century, which would defy predictions that a majority of species could go extinct without us ever knowing about them.
Scientists are currently identifying about 17,000 to 18,000 new species a year. At this rate, most species will be classified by 2040 if there are about 2 million species in total, and by the year 2240 if the total is nearer the 5 million mark.
Previously, scientists have estimated that about 5 per cent of the total number of species is going extinct each decade, which would mean more than half would die out within 150 years. However, Professor Stork and his colleagues believe the true extinction rate is nearer to 1 per cent per decade – which means the rate of species description should outpace the rate of extinction.
In fact, rather than Darwin, it was the Swede, Carl Linnaeus, who is widely credited with being the father of taxonomy. His work, good and bad in parts, has been largely superseded by the ability to analyse DNA and thus a more accurate recognition of species.
Who would have thought that the hyrax (Leviticus 11:5) is related to the elephant (Job:40:15)?