No Man's Sky, the video game recently released by Hello Games, and that which you've definitely already heard of and are possibly going to play at some point today (the game's lead programmer, Sean Murray, has said that "too many of you are playing right now. More than we could have predicted") now has more species than have been discovered here on Earth.
Oh if only Charles Darwin were alive today! (He'd probably be a gamer, especially with that beard.)
Seriously though, forget about "descent with modification" and the evolution of life taking place over billions of years; if you want to cook up a big buffet of variable species fast, it's now clear that the way to go is with what Hello Games refers to as an "infinite procedurally generated galaxy."
Murray, who you may have seen representing the game on the Colbert Report back in October, tweeted the following:
For instance over night we hit 10 million species discovered in NMS... that's more than has been discovered on earth.
WHAT IS GOING ON!!!
— Sean Murray (@NoMansSky) August 10, 2016
The Verge picked up on the tweet, and verified that according to a 2011 study published in PLoS Biology there are only roughly 8.7 million species on Earth. Some studies however, have said that there could be one trillion species on Earth, so it is possible that No Man's Sky doesn't quite have Earth beat yet in regards to number of distinct species.
Ultimately, it seems unclear how many species there are on Earth—because so many haven't been cataloged, there are frequent extinctions, and definitions can get iffy—and it also seems unclear how many species could potentially be found in the "infinite" No Man's Sky universe. One thing is certain however: there will be enough species between Earth and No Man's Sky so that everybody can give some weird creature a goofy name at some point. Like this Swagasaurus Rex:
Speaking of goofy names, have you named any species in No Man's Sky, yet? Have you found the center of the galaxy, and stared into it and had it stare back into you?! Let us know in the comments below!
Images: Hello Games