The Economist magazine said in a report that 97% of the world’s animals and plants have not yet been discovered by humans. Among all known species, more than 99% of living things have only a simple description. For example, what is its name, except that we know nothing about it. Even how many species there are on the planet, we have not yet figured out, and the estimated figures are very different, some say it is 3 million species, and some say it is 200 million species.
This is mainly because the richness of life on the earth is actually far more than we think. For example, in 1982, a scientist sprayed 19 trees with pesticides in the Amazon rainforest, and then counted all the organisms that fell off the tree. It was found that the 19 trees were light, There are about 1,200 species of beetles, so it is speculated that there are about 30 million species of light insects on the entire earth. But this is still a creature that can be seen with the eyes, and the number of microorganisms like bacteria that are invisible to the naked eye is even greater.
In the 1980s, two scientists randomly collected 1 gram of soil in the wood near their laboratory, and found 4000-5000 different bacteria in it, more than the species in the most comprehensive bacterial manual at that time. many. Then you think about, how many different bacteria are there on the whole earth?
Not only that, our knowledge about life on Earth is still very confusing. Bill Bryson gave an example, saying that some types of grass have been discovered and named at least more than 20 times, because different discoverers thought they had discovered new species, but only later discovered that these grasses with different names It is actually the same species. There is a book called "American Grass", which is dedicated to recording different types of grass. It uses more than 200 pages to sort all the synonyms, and this is only a kind of grass in the United States. At present, there are only more than 10,000 active taxonomists in the world, and they have to rely on them for the classification of earth species. This number is obviously not enough. Therefore, a biologist humorously said that what humans are facing is not a biodiversity crisis, but a taxonomy crisis because there are too few taxonomists.
in conclusion. Our understanding of ancient creatures depends to a great extent on fossils, but the formation and discovery of fossils requires luck. It is actually very difficult to understand the relationship between organisms and their relationship through fragmented fossil records. So there are always errors. In addition, our understanding of life on Earth is far from enough. Even how many kinds of creatures there are on the planet and how to classify them have not yet been fully understood.
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