A new map reveals there is a potential treasure trove of animals awaiting discovery.
Life on Earth is more diverse than we can possibly imagine — and an ambitious project led by a team of Yale researchers brings us one step closer to finding hidden wildlife.
Yale - Map of Life
Following up on their earlier ‘Map of Life’ project tracking known animal species, the researchers have now created a map of undiscovered species on Earth.
The findings, published in a color-coded map here and a March study in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, identify the lands where undiscovered vertebrates are most likely to be hidden from human eyes.
Walter Jetz is the study’s lead researcher and a professor of ecology at Yale. He says the findings are “mind-blowing.”
“Earth still holds many biological secrets,” he adds.
The map can also help scientists race to protect endangered species.
And the animals you are most likely to find there.
Although new mammal discoveries are less likely than new amphibians, if we do find new mammals, they’ll probably be in biodiversity hotspots like Madagascar.
It’s best to search for reptiles in arid regions, scientists say, keeping an eye out for iguanas and snakes in particular.
We’re unlikely to find many new bird species, but if we do, they’ll be in one of these locations, the study predicts.
Other regions to watch:
Indonesia and Malaysia, where 22.7 percent of new species discoveries will occur.
Tropical regions in Africa, where 16.9 percent of new species discoveries will likely occur.
Finding undiscovered life in Europe and the U.S. is unlikely, but there’s a slim chance scientists could discover new mammals in Sardinia and reptiles in Spain.
But we could find new amphibians in the southeastern U.S., reptiles in the American Southwest, and even mammals on the U.S.-Mexico border.
The study also singles out geckos, iguanas, and snakes as the vertebrate animals most likely to be discovered in the future.
Species with bigger bodies, more expansive habitat ranges, which live in colder climates, and reside in areas with lower human density have higher chances of being discovered today.
Ultimately, Mario R. Moura, a co-author on the study and researcher at Yale’s Jetz Lab, says that scientists can use the map to identify discovery hotspots, which in turn can help ecologists “prioritize to save the most of planet's biodiversity.”