|How many living things are there?
|Question Date: 2007-01-11|
In terms of diversity, there are more than 1.5
million species of plants, animals, fungi, lichen,
and bacteria documented on Earth. And we are
discovering more species every day! In terms of
mass, there are currently about 75 billion tons of
living things (biomass) on Earth. And in the past
there were even more living things than today.
However, our planet has gone through a series of
mass extinctions (due to meteor impacts,
volcanoes, and/or other factors) that killed off
many species (like dinosaurs). For instance, 250
million years ago 70% of land species and 96% of
marine species became extinct.
Living things are hard to classify.Things like
viruses are considered (generally) not to be
living things, but they have RNA and can replicate
themselves like many other things we do consider
living. Also, the classification of living things
will change the number. For example, there are
many different races of humans. Do you consider
each race to be a different living thing or the
same? Similar for different types of cows,
grasshoppers, and so on and so forth. Is your
puppy a different living thing than the other dogs
because it has its own personality? This question
is very hard to answer, but you can be sure that
there are too many to count, and certainly many,
many, many that we don't know about.
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