How many species do scientists still think are undiscovered?



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    While Planet Earth is becoming an increasingly smaller and more familiar world as every corner is explored and colonized, there remain millions of species undiscovered and undocumented. A number of significant species have been discovered in recent months, revealing humans’ huge gaps in knowledge of the world around them. As the natural world struggles to adjust to ever-encroaching development, Mother Nature continues to surprise with her miraculous secrets. Some of these newly exposed creatures include the Golden Palace Titi monkey in Bolivia, a reported fox in Indonesia, a “vampire fish” in the Amazon and a re-discovery of a thought-extinct ivory-billed woodpecker in the United States.
    Discoveries like these put our relative ignorance into stunning perspective. It is conceivable that there are more organisms on Earth that have not been identified and documented than ones that have. The current number of species across all kingdoms has been put at approximately 1.75 million. A team of scientists from the United Kingdom and the United States has devised a program called the Catalog of Life, which aims to consolidate all the various indexes of species from around the globe, with the goal of producing a single, definitive encyclopedia of life. The estimated completion of the project is 2011, when the catalog will then begin to absorb the thousands of subsequent discoveries. Annually, there are 15,000 to 20,000 new species identified in the animal kingdom alone. The UN Global Diversity Assessment has estimated that Earth supports close to 13.6 million species.

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