We are currently witnessing a disturbing phenomenon since it seems that every year some living species disappear from the surface of our planet. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a little more than 800 plant and animal species have become extinct in the wild since 1500. In fact, it is very difficult to precisely define this number, since we now only know a fraction of all species living on this planet. Indeed, thousands of new species are discovered every year!

On the introductory picture, you can see a baby olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina). This species closely related to the raccoon was discovered in South America in 2013 (photo: Juan Rendon).

According to a report called State of Observed Species by the International Institute for Species Exploration, 19,232 new living species have been formally described in 2009. This list includes animals, plants, algae, fungi and microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses. According to that same report, 176 311 new species have been discovered and described between 2000 and 2009, bringing to a total of 1,941,939 living species on Earth! Some scientists estimate that there are nearly 7 million undiscovered species on the globe! Planet Earth is an incredibly well organized and diverse ecosystem that simply amazes me.

Discovered in 2012, <em>Meconopsis autumnalis</em> is a yellow poppy species living at 4000 meters in the Himalayas (photo: Paul Egan).

This beautiful gecko (<em>Saltuarius eximius</em>) was discovered in 2013 in Australia (photo: Conrad Hoskin).

How could such a big plant like Kaweesak dragon tree (<em>Dracaena kaweesakii</em>) has gone unnoticed until recently (photo: Paul Wilkin)?