Species census

Total number of known species on Earth are rising. A report by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University, US, compiled a list of species discovered in 2009

Published: Wednesday 29 February 2012

imageFascinating numbers

  • The total number of known species is now nearly two million
  • Among these are 1,360 species of fungi and 2,184 plants
  • Seven new species of birds, 41 mammals, 120 reptiles, 148 amphibians, 314 fish, 626 crustaceans and 9,738 insects were discovered in 2009
  • Of the 41 mammals, 83 per cent were either bats or rodents
  • 90 per cent of the amphibians were frogs
  • The species discovered represent a 5.6 per cent rise from 2008


imageInsects rule

  • More than half of the 19,232 species discovered in 2009 were insects
  • The largest group among the newly discovered insects was the beetles
  • Overall, 3,485 new beetle (Coleoptera) species were officially described. These included rove beetles (568), ground beetles (421), long-horned beetles (369), leaf beetles (356) and scarabs (288)
  • Wasps, ants and bees came close second with around 17 per cent of new species being added to their group

imageClose second

  • The second largest group added in 2009 was vascular plants, totalling 2,184 or 11.3 per cent
  • Almost 24 per cent of the new vascular plant species discovered in 2009 were in the Monocot order Asparagales which includes orchids, hyacinths, irises, daffodils, amaryllis, allium, aloe and asparagus
  • Within the orchids family, over 30 per cent of the new species were in just three genera: Lepanthes (44), Stelis (44) and Epidendrum (43)


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