What is the largest undiscovered animal
Biodiversity: A World Map of Undiscovered Animal Species
Two biologists have created a map of the as yet undiscovered creatures on earth, or a compilation of where they are most likely to be found. The project is based on the so-called "Map of Life", a database for the distribution of all classified species in the animal kingdom. However, since it is estimated that only 10 to 20 percent of all species are formally described in the first place, Mario Moura and Walter Jetz from Yale University have now addressed the question of where undiscovered animals are likely to exist and of which animal class. Your study has now been published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.
There is still potential, especially in the tropics
The result, among other things, is an interactive world map on which interested parties can view where the potential for discovery is particularly high. This is divided into amphibians, birds, reptiles and mammals. Almost half of all undiscovered animals are likely to be reptiles, a quarter amphibians. The analyzes show that birds have the lowest potential for discovery. Overall, the probability is therefore greatest to find what you are looking for in Brazil, Indonesia, Madagascar and Colombia. A quarter of all possible discoveries are concentrated in these four states.
In their work, the two researchers relied on 11 factors to narrow the potential for discovery. So it is obvious that large animals in populous areas are more likely to have already been discovered, while small animals with a small radius have still evaded it. In addition, data on the distribution area, historical animal discoveries, and biological and ecological characteristics of 32,000 known vertebrates were evaluated in order to make their prognoses. At the same time, they point out that these are nevertheless only estimates and not exact predictions.
For the German-speaking areas in Central Europe, the analyzes no longer reveal any real potential for discovery. In the case of amphibians, birds and reptiles, no area in Germany, Austria or Switzerland exceeds 0 percent at all, so in the case of mammals there is still very little potential for discovery in the Alps in Austria and on the border with Germany.
With their work, the scientists want to help other researchers look for undiscovered species. There is no doubt that in the face of global environmental changes, many animals are going extinct before we even know of their existence, says Jetz. You owe it to future generations to fill the knowledge gaps. One hopes not only to advertise the search for unknown animals, but also in politics for measures to protect species-rich areas.
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