86 Percent of Earth's Species Still Unknown?
Millions of organisms unnamed as extinction accelerates, study says.
That means scientists have cataloged less than 15 percent of species now alive—and current extinction rates mean many unknown organisms will wink out of existence before they can be recorded.
The study was driven by a simple question: "Are we within reach of finding all species, or are we way off?" said study co-author Boris Worm of Canada's Dalhousie University.
"The answer is, we are way off."
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