How many creatures on Earth?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Aladdin, Jun 17, 2011.

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  1. Aladdin Registered Senior Member

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    Six-year old question: how many animals (including humans) live on our planet? Couldn't answer. I suspect is in the trillions but ain't too sure about that.

    Anyone else willing to take a more educated guess?
     
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  3. Apoloto Eat your veggies now SHEWT EP! Registered Senior Member

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    My answer

    That depends. For animals, I'm guessing that there are something like seven hundred million different kinds of species

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    . However, if you mean the population of each species, then sorry, but I nor anyone else can help ya there.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2011
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  5. Enmos Valued Senior Member

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    Even if you would add all of those numbers you wouldn't even come close to the real answer.
     
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    There are approximately 1,250,000 species of animals, most of which are insects. Only 60,000 are vertebrates, and half of those are fish.

    There are five to ten million species of bacteria, the most prolific of the six Kingdoms, accounting for at least three-fourths of all species of organisms. (And if I'm not mistaken, also the vast majority of the total mass of living things on this planet. Most of the cells "in" your body are visiting bacteria, not "you.")

    The other four Kingdoms are plants, fungi, algae and archaea.
     
  8. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

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    I wasn't aware that algae was a kingdom. But I have heard that one species of fungi might have the single most massive life form on the planet (mostly out of sight underground). Not sure how big that is. If anybody knows offhand please post it thanks.
     
  9. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    I heard one covered an area around 9 km^2 (over 2,000 acres or so) but that it wasn't clear whether it was a single fungus or a colony of smaller ones.
     
  10. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

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    The specific fungi I was thinking of does those rings of mushrooms and the older it gets the larger the rings get to a point where you can't really tell there is a ring anymore because it's so large. It's considered one organism. I've heard some speculation that it might be so old that it might actually have been split when the continents drifted away from each other.

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  11. Rhaedas Valued Senior Member

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    Honey mushroom

    The one in Oregon, estimated at 2400 years old. Not quite as old as continental drift, but still impressive. It's still unknown if that one in particular is a single connected creature or not.
     
  12. synthesizer-patel Sweep the leg Johnny! Valued Senior Member

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    it isn't - well it is - well sort of - Frag probably means protists (kingdom protista) - most protists are algae - but not all algae are protists - and not all protists are algae.

    confused?

    I was

    Algae is more of a generic term for photosynthetic organisms that are either unicellular or lack organised tissues than it is a taxonomic definition

    So seaweed - a member of the plant kingdom - is considered to be an algae even though it is multicellular as it lacks the highly organised nature and specialised tissues of vascular plants.

    Cyanobacteria (aka blue green algae) are also algae (the clue's in the name), and are usually classified in either the bacteria kingdom or as archaea

    Diatoms - of which some species form large mats, ribbons and filaments, and form differentiated cells for specific functions within the communitiy (so in other words share some similarities with seaweed) - are also algae but are usually considered to be members of the protist kingdom ........ except when they aren't

    Basically the taxonomy of algae is pretty messed up and no-one can really agree on how it should be organised so different clades seem to get re-classified on a weekly basis....... in fact by the time I have finished typing this I may turn out to be wrong

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  13. Randwolf Ignorance killed the cat Valued Senior Member

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    I believe the title of "most massive" goes to an aspen grove called "Pando" that's been around some 80,000 years. Note that while it looks like many seperate trees they are really all one connected organism underground.

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    OTH, your fungus may cover the most area of any single organism...
    Enjoy...

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  14. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, I'm still confused, but I know more than I did before. Thank You

    Also, I do like the way Australians pronounce the word (Algae).

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  15. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

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    I will agree it's possible, I actually remember hearing something about that on a program I watched. But what about bamboo? It spreads like crabgrass mostly underground. Could that be considered one organism? I've seen a very large bamboo forest in Japan.
     
  16. Randwolf Ignorance killed the cat Valued Senior Member

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    I think they actually sequence the genes to determine whether it is one single organism or a colony of related, yet genetically different organisms.
    (at least in the case of Aspen groves)

    So it probably depends on the test results of the various bamboo "shoots"...
    :shrug:
     
  17. jmpet Valued Senior Member

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    Ten billion different living DNA-based life forms last I heard.
     
  18. Skeptical Registered Senior Member

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    The most basic classification is the 'domain'. There are three domains on Earth.
    1. Bacteria
    2. Archaea
    3. Eucarya

    Of course, if we accepted viruses as living, they would form the fourth domain.

    How many species?
    No-one knows. My old microbiology professor estimated that there were about 150 million species of bacteria alone. But that was a guess. An educated guess based on heaps of field work, but still a guess.

    We do not even know how many animals exist.
    (Eucarya domain. Kingdom animalia)
    I have come across heaps of estimates, ranging from 5 million to 20 million. So the reality is that a lot more work needs to be done to even put moderately accurate numbers of how many animals exist.

    I had the opportunity to discuss this with a nematologist. He had been studying marine nematode worms in the sediments of Auckland's Hauraki Gulf. Thousands of species. He estimated 1 million species of nematodes alone in the world. He might have been wrong, of course, since the only way to distinguish nematodes is by a full DNA analysis. But it suggests that many estimates of total numbers of species may be way out.
     
  19. Enmos Valued Senior Member

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    You are talking about described species. Insects alone make up 900,000 - 1,000,000 of your figure of described species, but:

    "Most authorities agree that there are more insect species that have not been described (named by science) than there are insect species that have been previously named. Conservative estimates suggest that this figure is 2 million, but estimates extend to 30 million."
    http://www.si.edu/Encyclopedia_SI/nmnh/buginfo/bugnos.htm

    And:

    "Scientists have made a drastic downwards revision of the number of insect species they believe the Earth contains.

    Instead of about 30-million-plus species some have suggested, the researchers say there are probably no more than four to six million different insect groups."

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/1949109.stm

    And:

    "Up until now researchers have calculated insect global diversity to be highest at tropical latitudes and the estimates for total number of insect species in the world ranges from five to ten million species. However, these calculations are based from indices derived from plant insect interactions measured in tropical lowlands of Papua New Guinea."
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100906084811.htm

    I think it's save to conclude that the number of undescribed insects species runs in the millions. So the number of undescribed species of insect is several times larger than the number of described species, insect and non-insect together.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2011
  20. Enmos Valued Senior Member

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    For insects alone this figure is estimated:

    "At any time, it is estimated that there are some 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) individual insects alive."
    http://www.si.edu/Encyclopedia_SI/nmnh/buginfo/bugnos.htm

    But since they probably make up more than 90% of the world animal population I think it's save to just use the above estimate for all animals. The estimate is bound to be a pretty rough one anyway.
     
  21. Spud Emperor solanaceous common tater Registered Senior Member

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    My eight year old asked the same question.
    I answered with 'about a squidbillion'
    I think I was fairly lose to the mark.
     
  22. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    I really don't know but there's to fucking many little critters out there trying to eat me alive!

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    Here's just one the many...

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  23. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

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    1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Stars in the universe (NASA)

    10,000,000,000,000,000,000 (Insects - Enmos source)

    Things that makes you go hmmmmmm
     
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