We are only half way into 2014, but science has announced the top 10 new species of the year! Well, technically these are 10 of the 18,000 plus new species from the previous year. Sadly, many of these species were going extinct before discovery. It’s believed that 10 million species still await discovery, which is more than 5 times the current list we have on record. These are mostly variations of already known species, hidden in remote regions of our planet. Get ready for some funky names during this quick scan through new-found critters and plants from across the globe.
Olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina) from South America makes it first on the list in alphabetical order of scientific name. (find the IISE’s complete list HERE) “resembling a cross between a slinky cat and a wide-eyed teddy bear,” this adorable species of mammal comes from the same family as the raccoon.
Kaweesak’s Dragon Tree (Dracaena kaweesakii) in Thailand, “the fact that it grows on limestone that is extracted for the manufacture of concrete, has earned this species a preliminary conservation status of endangered.” And this species of tree furthers its namesake by having dagger-shaped leaves and bright orange flowers.
ANDRILL AnemoneI (Edwardsiella andrillae) in Antarctica. “It is the first species of sea anemone reported to live in ice.” These tiny, 2.5 cm, sea anemones are perplexing scientists. How do they survive? The answer to this question could provide valuable information for science and medicine.
Skeleton Shrimp(Liropus minusculus) in California. “The new species has an eerie, translucent appearance that makes it resemble a bony structure.” Ewww… but cool. At 2 to 3 mm, these shrimp won’t be found on a plate, but the species offers an interesting glimpse into sea life.
Orange Penicillium(Penicillium vanoranjei) in Tunisia. “This species also produces a sheet-like extra-cellular matrix that may function as protection from drought.” The bright orange colonies that characterize this species has been named after His Royal Highness, the Prince of Orange.
Leaf-tailed Gecko (Saltuarius eximius) in Australia. “It’s not easy to spot this gecko, which has an extremely wide tail that is employed as part of its camouflage.” And the delayed discovery of this species is not hard to explain. Expert camouflage.
Amoeboid Protist(Spiculosiphon oceana) in Mediterranean Sea, “gathers pieces of silica spicules, which are actually sponge fragments, from its surroundings and uses them like so many Lego blocks to construct a shell.” With measurements of 4 to 5 cm, this species is a giant in the single-cell community.
Clean Room Microbes(Tersicoccus phoenicis) in Florida and French Guiana. “Found in rooms where spacecraft are assembled, this microbial species could potentially contaminate other planets that the spacecraft visit.” Unclear whether or not this resilient species has already piggy-backed to other planets. Perhaps the first extraterrestrial life will be one of our own?
Tinkerbell Fairyfly(Tinkerbella nana) in Costa Rica. “The tiny size and delicately fringed wings of the parasitoid wasp family Mymaridae led to their common name: fairyflies.” Fairyflys measure in micrometers. It’s a whimsical species that flutters about unseen. Perhaps not as graceful-looking as our favorite tinkerbell, but I love the name.
And we wrap up the top ten with the Domed Land Snail(Zospeum tholussum) in Croatia. “Even by snail standards, Zospeum tholussum moves slowly, creeping only a few millimeters or centimeters a week.” Only one living member of this species was found in the entire cave, but among many empty transparent shells. Being transparent, it would be hard to collect the ghost species.