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If we know anything at all, it’s that we still have so much to learn. Scientists estimate there are 10 million different species on Earth, and we have cataloged a mere 2 million. Thousands of plant species are discovered each year, and researchers estimate there are more than 300 species of mammals alone that have yet to be identified by humans.
New kids on the block: To highlight all humans have yet to learn about their planet and what they share it with, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry compiles an annual list of the top 10 new species described by science. The 2018 list spans the globe and includes creatures great and small, like an extinct omnivorous marsupial lion, the deepest ocean fish ever found, a rare great ape, and Venus’s hair,” a bacteria that originated from an undersea volcano near the Canary Islands, named for its long, hair-like structures. Some of the species are critically endangered, like the Atlantic forest tree, a giant Brazilian tree that grows more than 100 feet tall, only 25 of which are known to exist.
Another inconvenient truth: “At this stage, it’s us. People are altering habitats and changing the climate,” SUNY president Quentin Wheeler said. “As inconvenient as it might be to adapt to climate change with our crops and relocate cities in the most extreme scenarios, what we can’t do is bring back species once they’re gone. If we don’t find them, [these species] will be lost forever. And yet they can teach us so much.”