Monday, March 7, 2011

What is the number of animals living in our planet?

Up to now, the scientists have identified 1.4 million animal species that live on our planet. There are probably several millions more that are waiting to be discovered but on the other hand many animal species will forever remain a mystery because they will go extinct before we had the chance to discover them.

Discovering and identifying new animal species requires large funds, in fact according to the recent study by Brazilian scientists world would have to provide fund of $263 billion in order to discover and identify every animal on our planet.

This amount of money is really huge but scientists believe that this would in the end turn out to be a very small price to pay because this would give scientists a precious information about the creatures that enable such essentials as agriculture, fisheries, a possibility for new drugs to treat incurable diseases, and possibility for new energy sources.

What scientists are really saying here is that the world's economy primarily depends on biodiversity, and that by identifying all animal species on our planet we would be able to learn much more about it. The better knowledge about biodiversity would make preservation of natural resources much easier but many people still fail to see how important biodiversity really is.

Many animals are going extinct because of climate change and other major environmental issues, which makes documenting biodiversity of our planet even more important, and really a matter of urgency. This is because we need to know the role of these species in matters such as crop pollination, clean air, and other aspects that enable human well-being.

Scientists are currently identifying around 16,000 new animal species per year which is definitely not fast enough. As Brazilian researcher Antonio Marques ironically put it: "We are losing species by extinction faster than we are describing new species".

Money is not the only reason why scientists are relatively slowly identifying new animal species. The other reason is a global shortage of quality taxonomists.