“Ten Weirdest Life-Forms of 2011”

National Geographic has a cool slideshow of the ten weirdest new life-forms seen in 2011, including a cyclops shark, tadpoles with fangs and the deepest-living animal found to date. And an ant with mind-controlling fungus growing out of its head, but I’m trying to block that one out.

We still have many, many species to discover out there – we only know a small fraction of them. Below is a table of the catalogued and predicted species on Earth and specifically in the ocean. The totals come out to 1/7th of Earth’s species having been catalogued so far, and less than 1/11th of ocean species, although those numbers are obviously subject to a lot of error.

Mora C, Tittensor DP, Adl S, Simpson AGB, Worm B, 2011 How Many Species Are There on Earth and in the Ocean? PLoS Biol 9(8): e1001127. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001127, via Life Lines

We may have the cultural perception that the days of exploration are over, but they’re definitely not. There’s a lot more to discover out there, and there probably will be for generations. 


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