How many species on Earth? 8.7 million

Census of Marine Life, Washington DC

23 Aug 2011

try thisEight million, seven hundred thousand species (give or take 1.3 million).

That is a new, estimated total number of species on Earth — the most precise calculation ever offered — with 6.5 million species found on land and 2.2 million (about 25 percent of the total) dwelling in the ocean depths.

Announced today by Census of Marine Life scientists, the figure is based on an innovative, validated analytical technique that dramatically narrows the range of previous estimates. Until now, the number of species on Earth was said to fall somewhere between 3 million and 100 million.

Furthermore, the study, published today by PLoS Biology, says a staggering 86% of all species on land and 91% of those in the seas have yet to be discovered, described and catalogued.

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Coverage summary, click here

Sample coverage: stories by The Associated Press, click here; the Washington Post, click here, and the New York Times, click here.  New York Times editorial, click here.