Each year, scientists identify about 15,000 new species of animals, plants, fungi or microorganisms. It is estimated that about 86% of existing species on Earth have yet to be discovered or identified. That percentage might be even higher for ocean species in particular, because scientists have more difficulty exploring water. Scientists often concentrate their species research on biodiversity hot spots, which are areas that are rich in biological species but are at risk of losing habitat areas because of human actions. These include regions in the Congo, the Himalayas, California, India, Australia and the Caribbean.
More about new species:
- In 1833, British entomologist John Obadiah Westwood estimated there were 400,000 species of insects. Although more than 1 million insect species have been identified, Westwood’s estimate is significant because it is thought to be the first known estimate of biodiversity.
- Scientists have been discovering new species at about the same pace since 1758. At this rate, it would take at least 500 more years to discover all of the species that are estimated to exist in the world.
- As many as 10,000 species of undiscovered bacteria are thought to be present in one scoop of soil.