National Geographic reports a new study on the number of species on Earth suggests some 86 percent have yet to be fully described. So far scientists have identified 1.2 million unique species, the new study claims there may be 8.7 million while previous guesses ranged from three million to a hundred million.
Two hundred and fifty years after Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus devised a formal system for classifying the diversity of nature, the catalog for some classes of living things—such as mammals and birds—is nearly complete, the study says. But the inventories for other classes are woefully sparse.
For instance, only 7 percent of the predicted number of fungi—which includes mushrooms and yeasts—has been described, and less than 10 percent of the life-forms in the world's oceans has been identified.
What's been discovered so far are "those things that are easy to find, that are conspicuous, that are relatively large," Worm said.
"There is an age of discovery ahead of us when we could find out so much more of what lives with us on this planet."