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Census of Marine Life lists 122,500 known species, over halfway to complete inventory by Oct. 2010
Date:6/26/2008

with 56 synonyms appearing in taxonomic literature since its first description in 1766. Of no fixed address, it's known to frequent floats, pilings, and the underside of rocks, smells like exploded gunpowder and takes on many appearances (as shown in photos). It is also known as (AKA): Alcyonium manusdiaboli (1794), Spongia compacta (1806), Halichondria albescens (1818), Seriatula seriata (1826), Hymeniacidon brettii (1866), Pellina bibula (1870), Amorphina appendiculata (1875), Isodictya crassa (1882), Microciona tumulosa (1882), Menanetia minchini (1896), Trachyopsilla glaberrima (1931) and 44 other names.

No researcher's work is spared not even Carl Linnaeus, who in the 1750s overcame an international scientific Tower of Babel when it came to naming species. He instituted the two-word Latin name, starting with the (capitalized) genus, followed by a (lowercase) specific epithet, a system used ever since. Thanks to his method of binominal nomenclature, what is dubbed a bulot in French fish markets, whelk in New England, buccin in Canada, and the Wellhornschnecke of the North Sea, is known universally to scientists as Buccinum undatum.

However, over time it emerged that Linnaeus assigned four names to the same species of sperm whale, a mistake caught years ago but which still appears in world literature and databases. The World Register will clarify for all time the valid name for that whale and all other marine species for future researchers, census takers and educators alike.

Says Philippe Bouchet, a Census scientist involved in WoRMS: "Describing species without a universal register in place is like setting up a library without an index catalog."

Discovery outstrips description capacity

Census of Marine Life and other explorers are finding unknown species at a rate much faster than the capacity to describe them due to a shortage of experts. Dr. Bouchet calculates that 3,800 taxonomists enter at least 1,4
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Contact: Terry Collins
terrycollins@rogers.com
416-538-8712
Census of Marine Life
Source:Eurekalert  

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Census of Marine Life lists 122,500 known species, over halfway to complete inventory by Oct. 2010
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