• Question: Would it be possible to collect 2 of every single type of animal on the Earth and put them all on a big 'boat'?

    Asked by samg to Alex, Amy, Andy, Georgia, Ollie on 17 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Amy Reeve

      Amy Reeve answered on 17 Jun 2011:

      Hi Sam,

      You would need a massive boat and about 100 years! We find new species of animals all the time, since some species are unknown to science you would miss these. I think it would be a logistical nightmare trying to do this!! BTW do you know something we don’t?!

    • Photo: Andy MacLeod

      Andy MacLeod answered on 17 Jun 2011:

      It might be possible, but you’d need a very big boat, and a very busy taxonomist.

      Hi samg. Let’s stick with “animals” – restrict ourselves to the Animal Kingdom. Probably for the best as if we tried to collect all the plants and bacteria, we’d be at it for even longer. And to make things a bit easier, lets also restrict ourselves to the species that we already know exist. There are probably thousands of animals we haven’t even discovered yet.

      Even so, that’s still a lot of work. There are thousands of species of mammals alone – some of them are pretty big and easy to spot, but there’s a wide range of sizes, some of them will be tricky. Probably a similar story for the reptiles. Birds would be a complete nightmare to catch. And the fish would be hard too – some live way down at the bottom of the ocean, and can’t survive without that pressure. Although why anyone would want to take fish out of the sea and put them on a boat is beyond me. The Animal Kingdom is pretty big, with lots of sub-groups of animals in it. One of these is the arthropods – this includes all the insects, which includes all the beetles. There are a lot of different kinds of beetles. Lots and lots. And unless you can find someone inordinately fond of them to catalogue them all, it’s going to be rather hard to find a pair of each.

      If you’re planning an extended voyage on this big boat, you’ll need to think about food. You’d have to put aside space for all of the plants the herbivores need to eat, but what about the carnivores? Will you take on extra animals to feed to other animals beyond the initial two? Or just hope that the breeding pairs of each produce enough offspring to satisfy the appetites of the others?

      One final problem comes in looking after all the animals on the boat. It’ll be a heck of a lot of work for just two people… 😉

      Not impossible. Just very, very hard. 😀