Number of Species Identified on Earth

Share |

Scientists have described over 1.7 million of the world's species of animals, plants and algae, as of 2010.

The list below gives the number of species known in the world for each major category of animals and plants.

The numbers most accurately represent all living species of mammals, birds and coniferous plants. Only for those groups have scientists almost completely identified all the world's species.

Biologists have yet to describe many species of plants, invertebrate animals and lichens. So the number of these species known to science increases substantially every year.

The greatest species diversity exists among insects, which account for one million of the earth's species known to science. Mammals make up one of the smallest groups, with just 5,490 members.

Altogether the earth's oceans, lakes, continents and islands support over 62,000 identified species of vertebrate animals and 320,000 species of plants.

How many species are known to currently exist in the world.
Category Species Totals
Vertebrate Animals
Mammals 5,490
Birds 9,998
Reptiles 9,084
Amphibians 6,433
Fishes 31,300
Total Vertebrates 62,305
Invertebrate Animals
Insects 1,000,000
Spiders and scorpions 102,248
Molluscs 85,000
Crustaceans 47,000
Corals 2,175
Others 68,827
Total Invertebrates 1,305,250
Flowering plants (angiosperms) 281,821
Conifers (gymnosperms) 1,021
Ferns and horsetails 12,000
Mosses 16,236
Red and green algae 10,134
Total Plants 321,212
Lichens 17,000
Mushrooms 31,496
Brown algae 3,067
Total Others 51,563

The species totals do not include domestic animals such as sheep, goats and camels. Nor do they include single-celled organisms such as bacteria.


The World Conservation Union. 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Summary Statistics for Globally Threatened Species. Table 1: Numbers of threatened species by major groups of organisms (19962010).

Share |

Science Articles