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Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus created and published in 1758 the system still used to formally name and describe species. In the 253 years since, about 1.25 million species — roughly 1 million on land and 250,000 in the oceans — have been described and entered into central databases . “It is a remarkable testament to humanity’s narcissism that we know the number of books in the US Library of Congress on 1 February 2011 was 22,194,656, but cannot tell you — to within an order-of-magnitude — how many distinct species of plants and animals we share our world with,” Lord May writes. Vaquita means “little cow” in Spanish, and despite conservationists’ best efforts to save the species, less than 30 of the animals remain today, according to the Marine Mammal Center. The venomous snake prefers to munch on eels and fish, and has been negatively impacted by warming ocean waters. Stellar’s sea cow, a manatee-like creature, was discovered in the frigid waters of Alaska’s Bering Sea in 1741. Within 27 years, the animal had been hunted to extinction for its meat and hide. The Eelgrass limpet, a species of sea snail, used to be abundant in the waters of the western Atlantic.

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