Life does not exist in millions or billions of species – rather, the real figure amounts to almost one trillion, says a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Life is made to thrive on Earth, both in variety and in number. This planet is blessed with millions and billions of species, from giant trees to microscopic bacteria, with creatures walking on 2 legs while others crawl and yet more fly, some on the planet’s surface or beneath its water, all coexisting despite their varying colours, shapes, needs, and instincts. But, how many species does the Earth really have? Biologists from Indiana University claim we have almost one trillion species of life forms on Earth.
One trillion species. This is huge, and the majority remain unknown to us, humans. If this is not scary a fact, I don’t know what is. Indeed, we have identified only around one-thousandth of 1 percent of this number.
This figure is an estimate that was concluded from analysing massive databases of microorganisms, plants, and animals, using universal scaling laws relating biodiversity to abundance. Scaling laws accurately estimate the number of communities of plants and animals. The correlation between biodiversity and abundance has been found to be so powerful that the estimate reached one trillion in number. This study entails the largest compilation of this form, and includes more than 5.6 million species coming from 35,000 places across the world to the exception of Antarctica.
Study author Jay T. Lennon admits the difficulty in providing an estimate for the number of species on our planet. He explains that they have used ecological models as well as new ecological rules to assist them in their endeavour. Furthermore, they were equipped with modern genetic sequencing technology that aided them in gleaning more information than ever.
The authors emphasise the great diversity of microorganisms as their findings show how many of these are still unknown and undocumented. These microscopic lives account for a large proportion of living species on Earth. Previous estimates of the total species have been inaccurate mainly because microbial life was ignored. What the researchers also point out is that the identification of every single species of microbe on earth is a terribly unimaginable task.