So far biologists have found about1.5 a million species living on this planet. While this total may seem impressive, the available evidence suggests that this estimate grossly underestimates the true extent of the Earth’s biodiversity. In fact, even today, after all the explorations over the past few years, several thousand new species are described every year.
Some of the recent discoveries even include entirely new communities in unexpected places. For example, grassland surveys conducted by Citizen Scientists in 2007 in an area beginning 5 km from the Johannesburg metropolitan area in southern Africa found previously unknown populations of five threatened bird species, as well as a number of Coelacanths are of interest to evolutionary biologists because they exhibit certain muscular and bony features in their fins that are comparable to the limbs of the earliest vertebrates that crawled on land.
After the initial discovery, coelacanths have been found along the African Indian Ocean coast from South Africa to Comoros and as far as Kenya. Unfortunately, the entire Coelacanth population is currently critically endangered due to ongoing fishing pressure.
Although field studies have proved of great importance in discovering new species, genetics have made perhaps the greatest taxonomic advance.
Our latest estimates, combining genetic analysis of known groups with mathematical patterns, suggest that there are between 1 and 6 billion different species on Earth, this is obviously much larger than the current catalog of 1.5 million species. With the number of new species continuing to hide in plain sight, so to speak, there is no doubt that a vast number of species and communities are waiting to be discovered by eager explorers and researchers over the next decades.