Are 95% of the species that ever lived still alive?

here is an interesting point: scientists claiming that 99% of the species that ever lived exincted. but the data point to the opossite actually. the estimate number of living species is about no more then 10 milion:

the estimate number of species in the fossil record is no more then 500,000. its mean that even if all the species that appear in the fossil record extincted, 95% of the species that ever lived on earth are still alive.

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Logical leap: the fossil record is a complete record of extinct species…

not according to this paper:

so yes- we have almost a complete record of the species in the fossil record.

How do you figure that?

from the abstract:

"The living members of 113 families of bivalves and gastropods of the Californian Province include 698 species living at shelf depths, of which 538 or 77% are known as Pleistocene fossils from the same region; another 113 fossil species are extralimital, and 98 are extinct. Living species not found as fossils are chiefly rare today, and/or minute, fragile, and/or from deeper shelf habitats. Sampling of the Pleistocene record has been biased towards shallow-water assemblages. Fragile and minute forms are probably underrepresented in the record. Rare forms, however, are still appearing as new studies are conducted, and many rare species are yet to be discovered. At least 85% of durably skeletonized living species may have been captured in the record. "

The cited article begins with:

“Number of species on Earth tagged at 8.7 million
Most precise estimate yet suggests more than 80% of species still undiscovered.”

I don’t see how the OP thread title conforms to the citation. And then the final post cites an abstract about bivalves and gastropods of the Californian Province.

Perhaps there are language obstacles at work here. I just can’t pull these pieces together.

Is Dcscccc asking us:
"Are 95% of the species that ever lived still alive?"

Notice that the editors added an important note at the bottom of the article several days after its original publication:

CORRECTED: This article originally did not make it clear that the estimate was only for eukaryotic organisms, leaving out other familes such as prokaryotes. The text has been changed to reflect this.

Surely there is some sort of misunderstanding here. Dcscccc, you surely understand that fossilization is dependent on a great many factors coming together “just right” in order to bring about what is typically a very unlikely “preservation” of an organism. And while some organisms have hard shells, for example, many other organisms are composed of soft tissues which are not at all likely to be fossilized. Indeed, that is why some organisms suddenly appeared in the fossil record of the Cambrian Explosion: That doesn’t mean that those organisms suddenly came into existence. No, in many cases they begin to appear because they had body parts which had greatly increased probabilities of fossilization! (It is very much worth the time spent reading a basic paleontology textbook on these topics. There is a lot of atrocious “disinformation” circulating online about the Cambrian Explosion and even silly Youtube videos about “fossilized mats” which confuse mineral accretion with permineralization.)

Nobody who understands the major processes of fossilization, would expect a “complete record of the species in the fossil record.”

P.S. One of the worst arguments about fossilization one finds on many origins ministry websites is the claim that “If the Theory of Evolution were true and the life had existed on earth for billions of years, we’d expect to find far more fossils all over the world!”

Of course, what is especially funny about that argument is that the logic of it would totally destroy claims of a 6,000 year old earth. After all, we can point to all sort of individual geologic formations (e.g., White Cliffs of Dover; the sea life fossils underneath the Creation Museum; the 15,000 alternating shale-sandstone layers of the Haymond Formation, each with independent tunnels/burrows) which far exceed the possible remains of life from just 6,000 years of the biosphere! How could living things produce such enormous quantities of biomass over just a few thousand years. It is amazing to see how many Young Earth Creationist arguments are self-refuting and self-destructive.

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so what is your claim actually? i showed that according to the paper most of the species indeed get fossilization. so where the 99% number come from?

you doesnt think that 6000 years can produce about 10^30 bacteria?

@Dcscccc, the White Cliffs of Dover, the coral remains under the Creation Musuem, and the Haymond Formation were not produced by bacteria!

(My apologies if you were making a joke. I didn’t see an emoticon so I assumed that your comment was serious about attributing the biomass production to bacteria. Obviously, bacteria multiply quickly, but corals and Coccoliths do not! Of course, that may have been the joke that you were making, so I hope I’m not being a buzzkill.)

In fact, 100% of all species classified as homo sapiens sapiens are living right now, too!

Of course, that’s just one species. A pretty small sample size.

Dcs, know that I love you as a brother when I say this: you are still failing to grasp basic concepts in statistics. Consequently, your analysis has some shortcomings :

  1. Your sample is biased, not random. You have chosen a type of animal that fossilized far more easily than the vast majority.

  2. Your sample is vastly too small, a mere 10^-6 of extant species.

  3. You forget that there are enormous numbers of fossil species which have no extant members in the family group. Suppose I selected a different family of species to estimate the proportion of extinct to living across all the biosphere, namely trilobites. If we extrapolated from trilobites instead of from Californian bivalves and gastropods, what would the proportion of living to total (extinct + living) be, my friend dcs? Would it still be 99.5%? Higher? Lower?

Chris Falter

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@dcscccc, I would recommend the many instructional videos produced by a journalist under his Youtube identity: Potholer54:

The above is one of many playlists and focuses on origins including his The Theory of Evolution Made Easy.

He is very entertaining and has a lot of experience with video productions. He has a version of his Made Easy videos produced for use in schools which avoids the sarcasm and it generally tones down the debate rancor which tends to accompany origins debates. Whatever someone’s opinions about the science, the videos will help one grasp the basics. You will find the time well spent.

1)if its true then why those scientists chosed this group of species? and why they called their paper “how good is the fossil record?”

2)there is about 10,000 species of birds. only about 10% of them exnicted. so its mean that most of the bird species in the fossil record are still alive. so again we have a good record of the species in the fossil record.

its a group of species. and a big one.

true. dinos for example extincted. but we need to look at the total record. and the total record show us only 500000 species and about 10000000 living species. do the math.

Can we stop using “extinct” as a verb…? :confused:

You’re saying we should extinct it?


Good idea. However, it is also worth keeping in mind that an international forum attracts non-native speakers. The fact that extinct is not a verb is obvious to us but not to those still learning the language. English is the result of a complex interaction of a series of language (mostly due to migrations and invasions.) Complexity is the price we pay for that.

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True. Language has evolved to great complexity, although 95% of words that ever existed still exist.

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Because some scientists specialize in those taxons and the fossil record is very important to them!

I’ve noticed that you are making assumptions that are quite common among the anti-evolution ministries: You assume that the authors of scientific papers and science journalists are focused on winning an “evolution vs. creation” battle. They aren’t. Indeed, most never give that any thought. Probably 99% of them have no idea that their words will be carefully parsed and protested by evolution-deniers.

Even when I was still part of the anti-evolution ministry community, I often got frustrated with my young earth creationist brethren for thinking that scientists and science journalists gave any thought to reciprocating their obsession with the alleged (but non-existent) “debate”. Despite the claims of Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, Ray Comfort, and their like-minded evolution-haters, a paleontologist writing a paper about ancient mollusks gives no thought to “How can I spin this data to destroy belief in God and to deny creation?”

It is obvious to most of us that you are skimming the scientific literature in hopes of finding fuel for the fire: something which will somehow convince others who are unfamiliar with the science that scientists throughout the world are so obsessed with ideology that entire fields of science are hopelessly riddled with falsehoods and propaganda.

We are still interested in your data and calculations which led you to decide that 90% of the differences were allelic. How did you reach that conclusion? You claim that the scientists are wrong and reckless. Why should we assume that you have a better grasp than all of the world’s PhDs of evolutionary biology, taxonomy, genomics, and paleontology?

first- we talk about evidence and not scientists belief (evolution). and second- not all of them believe in evolution. so it isnt all of them but most of them. do you agree that we need to follow where evidence lead?

An entertaining twist to the topic!

{WARNING: Unimportant Tangent Ahead.}

Even though I’m cautious about the overuse (and misuse) of analogies in explaining evolution to non-scientists, there’s no denying that human language evolution provides a lot of great illustrations of how biological evolution works.

I was recently dealing with an evolution-denier who had absorbed the usual misunderstandings about vestigial organs. So I was trying to think of linguistic illustrations to explain to them that a vestigial organ was not NECESSARILY a useless organ (i.e., devoid of function.)

It got me thinking about examples of words which lost their original meanings and even took on opposite meanings, and how the non-natives faced with learning the language have to struggle with maddening complications like AWFUL once had the meaning of today’s AWESOME. **I soon concluded that any attempt to correct their misunderstanding of VESTIGIAL ORGAN using linguistic analogies was sure to create more problems than it solved.

Anyway, I congratulate @dcscccc on his willingness to debate in a language not his own. It has been very interesting to see how he often VERY LOGICALLY applies inflections and grammatical principles which really should work…yet due to the quirky history of the language, monks of the Middle Ages working in their unheated cells at the monastery arbitrarily decided that some would be “standardized” into the language and some would not. Indeed, there is really no good reason other than how history played out that EXTINCTED is not a word in the English lexicon with the definition “to cause to die out” and “to cause to become extinct.”

I have a special fascination with such things because of my background in comparative linguistics and the fact that I spend a lot of time surrounded by linguists. So every time I see a non-native speaker grapple with these complexities, I rank the learning of English as somewhere near waterboarding in the ranking of torturous practices to be endured. Now add to that the challenges of learning about evolutionary biology from an English textbook.

I once had an Iranian student who told me that his command of the English language was basically stalled until he started two daily practices: He watched American sitcoms for one hour after dinner. (Talk about water-boarding!) And he started posting on various online conspiracy theory forums. He said whether it was about the Kennedy assassinations or denial of the Apollo moon landings didn’t really matter, but the nasty verbal combat exposed him to a lot of idioms and not-so-polite speech that textbooks were missing.

Anyway, I’ve sometimes wondered if there are ways to attract international participants to ministry websites by offering discussions forums which combine scientific and theological education along with English language skill enhancement. And whatever we do, we can encourage international participants who are practicing their language skills and perhaps provide a courteous rewording of a post now and then. I know that I would appreciate that kind of help if the situations were reversed.