The International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) announces the release of two State of Observed Species (SOS) Reports on January 18, 2012. These documents represent a report card on the status of our scientific knowledge of Earth's species and the ongoing progress of discovering and describing new species. Since the mid-1700s nearly two million species have been described and it's been estimated that about ten million species still remain unknown to science and are awaiting discovery and study.
This year's annual report, SOS 2011, summarizes the 19,232 new living species officially described in calendar year 2009 and includes animals, plants, algae, fungi and microbes. The Retro SOS provides a data summary of the 176,311 new living species that were discovered and described from 2000 to 2009. With a scope of 10 years, the Retro SOS allows a greater understanding of the data trends that reflect the successes, gaps, and opportunities of species exploration ‒ such as a notable 12.8% increase in new extant species descriptions for the time period. Together, the reports tell us that taxonomists continue to advance our scientific understanding of Earth's species as thousands and thousands of new species are added each year to our databases including 1,905 new animal fossil species in 2009 and 24,869 new animal fossil species from 2000 to 2009.
The SOS 2011 and the Retro SOS would not have been possible without the dedication and support of our data partners: Thomson Reuters Zoological Record, International Plant Names Index, MycoBank and AlgaeBase. We are deeply grateful for their time and generous efforts in providing the data necessary for these reports. We are also indebted to Taxatoy, an interactive application that allowed us to provide the graphic representations of species discoveries from 1750 to 2000 that appear in the Retro SOS Report.