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Biologists who classify new species normally publish in specialized journals, which has led to an overwhelming amount of information with nobody keeping an overview. Even experts in very specialized fields often don't notice if a species has been formally recorded twice, three times or even more often. Therefore, it is not known how many species are known – and this is just as ridiculous as it sounds. We are not talking about all species that exist on earth - but simply the total number of species that have already been recorded in scientific publications.
Nobody knows how many there are. Expert 'A' might think that there are 17 000 annelids known, expert 'B' believes to know about 20 000. This is because there is no central registration process and no database or reference directory to browse information about the current state of knowledge on a particular species. This situation can be summarized with the statement: A central, extensive database for taxonomy is urgently needed.
And this is what what Wikispecies should become: an open, extensive database for scientists and non-scientists to reflect the diversity of life on our planet Earth. Because life is public domain!