by Piter Kehoma Boll
Currently there are about 1,2 million species described worldwide and hundreds of new species are found and described every month. Some estimations predict that Earth currently contains more than 10 million species, meaning that we still know very little of our diversity. The hundreds of species described monthly may look as a huge progress, but actually we are running in a very slow pace, mainly due to the lack of taxonomists, but also because of the few resources devoted to research in biodiversity.
Most people may think that in the current world, a new species represents some small and mysterious animal found deep inside an unexplored tropical forest. Well, most of them fit in this description, but actually many new species are found living among humans for decades or centuries.
Many of them, while unknown to experts in the group, may be well known by the local people. An example of that is the recently described little black tapir (Tapirus kabomani).
But many species unknown to science are frequently spotted by nature enthusiasts and wildlife photographers. Fascinated by the beauty of the creatures they found, they take some pictures of the specimens and post them online. And when some biologist recognizes it as a probably new species, he or she gets excited and interested in helping that species to be known. A place crowded with new species is certainly flickr. Here I’ll show some photographs of land planarians, the group I work with, that I found on the website and that certainly, or most likely, represent new species.
Oh, how I envy those people living close to these places! If only there were someone there able to study, described and publish all that diversity.