The Wonders of Life

Scientists have found and described almost 2 million living species, but the total number of species likely exceeds 7 million with some estimates as high as 30 million. Although our eyes are drawn to large and charismatic animals, typically vertebrates like birds and mammals, earth’s biodiversity is dominated by bacteria and invertebrates like insects. Every year we discover new organisms, with almost 20,000 “new” species described in 2008. Unfortunately, that matches the number of (known) species that we lose each year, with most extinctions resulting from habitat loss and pollution. The International Institute for Species Exploration celebrates some of these “new” species in their annual top ten list, with several marine species making the grade.

sea cucumber feeding

group of ascidians


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