‘A different dimension of loss’: inside the great insect die-off

Scientists have identified 2 million species of living things. No one knows how many more are out there, and tens of thousands may be vanishing before we have even had a chance to encounter them. By Jacob MikanowskiThe Earth is ridiculously, burstingly full of life. Four billion years after the appearance of the first microbes, 400m years after the emergence of the first life on land, 200,000 years after humans arrived on this planet, 5,000 years (give or take) after God bid Noah to gather to himself two of every creeping thing, and 200 years after we started to systematically categorise all the world ’s living things, still, new species are being discovered by the hundreds and thousands.In the world of the systematic taxonomists – those scientists charged with documenting this ever-growing onrush of biological profligacy – the first week of November 2017 looked like any other. Which is to say, it was extraordinary. It began with 95 new types of beetle from Madagascar. But this was only the beginning. As the week progres sed, it brought forth seven new varieties of micromoth from across South America, 10 minuscule spiders from Ecuador, and seven South African recluse spiders, all of them poisonous. A cave-loving crustacean from Brazil. Seven types of subterranean earwig. Four Chinese cockroaches. A nocturnal jellyfi sh from Japan. A blue-eyed damselfly from Cambodia. Thirteenbristle worms from the bottom of the ocean – some bul...
Source: Guardian Unlimited Science - Category: Science Authors: Tags: Invertebrates Taxonomy Insects Animals Wildlife Environment Extinct wildlife Science Biology Source Type: news

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