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How many living things are there on the planet?

Swallowtail butterfly So how many different forms of life are there?
Hundreds? Thousands? Millions?

It is very difficult to imagine how many species of plants, animals and other creatures there are on the planet.

Consider the swallowtail butterfly. It is just one of many butterflies, and butterflies are only one type of insect...

In the world today...

Living things There are about 600 species of swallowtail butterfly
But this is only one group of butterflies

There are about 16,000 species of butterfly
But we haven't included the moths!

There are about 165,000 species of butterfly and moth
But this is only one group of insects

There are about 1,000,000 species of known insects
But insects are only one type of arthropod

There are about 1,075,000 species of arthropod
But arthropods are only one type of animal

There are about 1,500,000 species of animal
But animals are only one type of living thing

There are about 70,000 species of fungi
There are about 400,000 species of plant
And there are at least 140,000 species of 'protist'

But there is one more type of living thing...
Scientists cannot begin to imagine how many bacteria there are!

When you consider how many living things there on the planet, you can begin to understand the importance of classification. Classification helps scientists organise the diversity of life on Earth.

The rest of Animal I.D. explains more about the organisation and classification of the animal kingdom.

Can you answer these questions? Click on a question to discover the answer.

How many living things are there on the planet?
What are kingdoms?
How do scientists classify living things?
How do we divide the animal kingdom?
What is the tree of life?

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