There over 9,900 species of birds and 30,000 species of fish. Insects are quite overwhelming with 950,000 species. But microbes rule when it comes to variety! How many microbe species are there? As recently as 1998, scientists believed there were one million microbe species. But researchers have now discovered the number is really around 1,000,000,000,000 species. That’s one TRILLION species of microbes, which is one million times greater than the estimation just 18 years ago!
However, this discovery is just the beginning. The estimation for the number of species cannot be accurate until we acknowledge a broader concept: evolution. Due to this phenomenon of changing heritable traits, the species that lived a few billion years ago may not exist today. Thus, the approximation of 1 trillion may still be an understatement if you include all those microbe ancestors. Some scientists have even made a bold prediction of 1 nonillion species, or 1 with 30 zeroes, Woah! Perhaps there are many more out there on other planets as well!
We currently don’t have the technology to be able to accurately answer how many microbe species there are. But keep in mind, science continues to advance every day, and we may not have to wait another 18 years to better understand our many microscopic neighbors.