I found this question about how many taxonomic families there are. That made me wonder how many are just in the animal kingdom alone. I want to know about families not species. Now the linked question was three years ago, so there should be some new information and numbers. A good answer would preferably include a breakdown of the phyla.


The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) is maintained regularly by a consortium of North American governmental agencies, and will give you a list of all the classes, orders, families or genera in any of seven kingdoms they recognize. It might be biased towards North American taxa, but it might be quicker to get a list from then rather than extracting them from Wikipedia.

To help you further, user Rozenn Keribin used an awk script to summarize the number of families per phylum at https://justpaste.it/163c6.

Phylum: Myxozoa -- 4
Phylum: Chordata -- 1049
Phylum: Echinodermata -- 139
Phylum: Hemichordata -- 7
Phylum: Xenacoelomorpha -- 9
Phylum: Chaetognatha -- 9
Phylum: Arthropoda -- 2504
Phylum: Kinorhyncha -- 10
Phylum: Loricifera -- 2
Phylum: Nematoda -- 192
Phylum: Nematomorpha -- 3
Phylum: Onychophora -- 2
Phylum: Priapulida -- 3
Phylum: Tardigrada -- 20
Phylum: Annelida -- 142
Phylum: Brachiopoda -- 21
Phylum: Bryozoa -- 133
Phylum: Kamptozoa -- 5
Phylum: Mollusca -- 581
Phylum: Nemertea -- 20
Phylum: Phoronida -- 0
Phylum: Sipuncula -- 6
Phylum: Acanthocephala -- 26
Phylum: Gastrotricha -- 13
Phylum: Gnathostomulida -- 12
Phylum: Micrognathozoa -- 1
Phylum: Orthonectida -- 2
Phylum: Platyhelminthes -- 321
Phylum: Rhombozoa -- 3
Phylum: Rotifera -- 34
Phylum: Cnidaria -- 269
Phylum: Ctenophora -- 19
Phylum: Placozoa -- 0
Phylum: Porifera -- 142
Total -- 5703

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  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Wow, that is a MUCH easier to parse source than the ones I knew about or that were given as answers to the previous question! So much easier that I wrote an awk script to do so that provides exactly what OP was asking for. Obviously too long for a comment and I don't want to edit your answer without asking first, here's a link if you want to do so: justpaste.it/163c6 (the source you gave would also be a valuable answer to the earlier question the OP referred to) $\endgroup$ – Oosaka Apr 30 '17 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ @RozennKeribin Thanks for the link! I've added it to my answer, but feel free to edit it directly if you'd like! $\endgroup$ – Gaurav May 1 '17 at 22:27

Your question immediately made me think of the paper "How Many Species Are There on Earth and in the Ocean?", which is about estimating the total number of species based on the rate of discoveries of higher taxa. I imagine writing the paper involved the most thorough investigation of how many taxons there are in any group that you'll find. It's from 2011 so it's not going to include actual new information from the last three years, but given it looks at the rate of discoveries over time you can see the evolution and estimate where things are yourself.

Figure S1 gives the actual plots of number of taxa vs time; from it we can see that Animalia contained a bit over 5000 families (5300 I'd say?) in 2011, with an estimated total number of a bit under 6000 (5700?). So today's number is likely to be within that range.

If you want the actual list per phyla you just need to look at the same sources that were given in the answers to the original question; Wikipedia and the NCBI taxonomy browser (which also links to other resources that might be easier to interpret) have no reason not to be up-to-date.

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