Newly Discovered Species
We live in a big world that is so expansive and vast, we haven’t explored all there is living and growing in it yet. Our knowledge of this planet is constantly changing and evolving. Every year, we discover new species. It is fascinating to think about, and it provides a small amount of hope considering we hear about extinction so often. Here are some of the many newly-discovered species of animals and plants.
- The Deep-Sea Dumbe, or Emperor Dumbo Octopus (Grimpoteuthis imperator), is a mysterious species of cephalopod (or mollusk) that lives more than 4,000 feet under the North Pacific Ocean. It is the deepest living octopus known to science. It has two ear-like fins on its head and is adorable.
- The Nano-Chameleon (brookesia nana) might be the smallest reptile known, as it is barely larger than a fingernail. Two were found on the mountain rainforest floor of Madagascar. While it is a member of the chameleon family, it doesn’t change color.
- The Bright Orange Bat (myotis nimbaensis) was found and named after the Nimba Mountains in West Africa. True to its name, this bright orange bat is found in caves and mining tunnels. Unfortunately, it is only located in one particular mountain range, so protecting the area is crucial to its survival.
- Suzhen’s krait (bungarus suzhenae) is a deadly snake named after a Chinese snake goddess, a deity of healing and true love. It lives in rice fields and streams in the Yunnan Province in China.
- Jonah’s Mouse lemurs (microcebus jonahi) are shy, nocturnal primates found on the island of Madagascar. They are considered the smallest group of primates globally, about the size of a human fist.
- The Lilliputian frog (noblella sp.nov.) measures around 10 millimeters and is one of the smallest known frogs in the world. It lives in tunnels beneath moss and humus in the Zongo Valley cloud forest, close to La Paz, Bolivia. The particular expedition that discovered this frog also uncovered twenty new species, including several orchid and butterfly species and a few species thought to be extinct.
- Salazar’s pit viper (Trimeresurus salazar) is a new green pit viper species found in the Himalayas, named after Salazar Slytherin, a character from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series. It is nocturnal and has a unique orange-to-red stripe on its head.
- Genus acrotaphus are parasitic wasps. Fifteen new species have been discovered in the Andean cloud forest and the Amazon rainforest of Brazil. These wasps take over spiders by using venom to paralyze them temporarily. The wasps then lay an egg in the spider. The spider then builds a web that will protect the developing wasp pupa. Once hatched, the larvae eat the spider and then live in the web.
- No less than nineteen new species of orchids have been found on the island of New Guinea. They are tree-dwelling orchids, and sixteen species are fly pollinated, so their flowers look hairy, like mammals.
- The Carolina Sandhills salamander (eurycea arenicola) is a red, shiny species of salamander. It lives in the springs and small streams of the sandhills in North Carolina, which has sixty-four known salamanders, more than any other state. This particular region has some of the last remaining longleaf pine ecosystems in the U.S.
- Tiganaphyton karasense is a whole new family of evergreen shrubs. It is in the same order as broccoli and cabbage: Brassicales. It has scaly leaves and thrives in the salt pans of the semidesert. Unfortunately, there are fewer than 1,000 known to exist.
- Yala giant scorpion (heterometrus yaleensis) is a forest-dwelling scorpion only found in Sri Lanka. The female can grow up to four inches, and the males up to three inches.
- Achalinus Zugorum is an iridescent snake from the Ha Giang Province of Vietnam. It has oddly patterned scales and lacks bright-light photoreceptors in its eyes. It burrows underground and is hard to find.
- The Purple Tree Crab Spider (leptarma biju) is found in the mangroves of the Chithari River in Kerala, India. It is purple and tiny, about half an inch long. It burrows in the soil, aerating it and recycling nutrients with its diet.
- Six new species of webcap toadstool mushrooms have been found in Scotland and England. They support the growth of trees such as oak and pine. One species was found by a river on the edge of one of the world's busiest airports, London Heathrow.
- Joker’s Grin Velvet Spider (loureedia phoenixi) is a species of velvet spider found in Iran. It has a striking red and white pattern. It reminded researchers of the iconic grin of the Joker, so they named it after the actor Joaquin Phoenix. It is tiny at about .3 inches long. It is one of the first of its genus to be found outside of the Mediterranean.
- The Louisiana pancake batfish (halieutichthys intermedius) is so tiny it can fit in the palm of your hand. It lives in the Gulf of Mexico and is a bottom dweller. It looks like a spiky pancake with bulging eyes. This little guy walks on the ocean floor using its fins, and after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, it has been declared endangered.
- The Yeti crab (kiwa hirsuta) has hair-like bristles that cover its arms and lives on the ocean floor off the coast of Costa Rica. It grows bacteria on its claws and eats it.
- The Orchid bee (euglossa bazinga) is a Brazilian bee named after the character Dr.Sheldon Cooper from the TV series The Big Bang Theory and is a shiny, metallic green.
Many new species have been discovered! It is so exciting to think even more mysterious creatures and plants are waiting to be found.