Wednesday, August 28, 2013

2013 List of Top Ten New Species

Last week a new mammal was introduced to the world.  Actually, this organism has been exhibited in zoos and its bones have been tucked away in museum collections -- but it has been a victim of mistaken identity for more than 100 years. A team of Smithsonian scientists, however, uncovered overlooked museum specimens of this remarkable animal, which took them on a journey to the canopy of forests in South America. The result is that the organism has now been identified as a new species: the olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina) -- the first carnivore species to be discovered in the American continents in 35 years.

The location where the olinguito was found:


So I decided to do a search to find out what other new species have recently been identified.  It is estimated that we only know about 10 percent of the species that exist on our planet -- so there are a lot of plants, animals, and other organisms yet to be found.
New species are selected by an international committee of taxon experts.  Each year they not only select and identify new species, but they select the top ten -- which are not ranked or presented in any particular order. The top ten are selected from hundreds of nominated species out of an estimated 18,000 species identified each year. Committee members are free to use any criteria they wish, keeping in mind the purpose of the Top 10 to draw attention to biodiversity and the science and institutions engaged in its exploration.

The top 10 list is released each year on or about Carolus Linnaeus’ birthday on May 23rd. Linnaeus is the “Father of Taxonomy” and his work in the mid 18th century was the beginning point for “modern” naming and classification of plants and animals.
The International Institute for Species Exploration is dedicated to the exploration, inventory, and classification of earth’s species, public awareness of the biodiversity crisis, and advocacy for the important roles played by taxonomy and natural history museums.
It is interesting to point out that when Carl Linnaeus began his taxonomic organization of all known species in the 1750s, there were only 10,000 known species. Now each year scientists discover twice that number, and add significantly to the current tally of two million known species. New species are discovered by a mix of professional scientists and amateur species hunters, although hopefully not "hunters" in the traditional sense, of course.
In one of the recent years, insects and invertebrates made up the vast majority of the newly discovered species, totaling 13,903 previously unknown species. Beetles were the most common discoveries, accounting for 3,485 in all, including 568 rove beetles, 421 ground beetles, 369 long-horned beetles, 356 leaf beetles, and 228 scarab beetles. Most of the rest of the new species were made up of plants, fungi, and microbes.
There were also 41 new mammals, about half of which were bats and another third were rodents. There were also 133 new frogs, 38 lizards, 31 snakes, and two new turtles. While 43 previously unknown birds were discovered, it's hard to call most of them "new" — 34 of these species were actually fossil specimens from now extinct species.
It is estimated that 10 million additional plant and animal species still await discovery along with up to 20 million new marine microbial species.  All total, between 2000-2009, there were 176,311 newly discovered species.

Here are some of the new species recently discovered.
Lilliputian Violet  -- Country: Peru
Viola lilliputana

The new Lilliputian violet is one of the smallest violets in the world.  Known only from a single locality in the high Andes of Peru, Viola lilliputana lives in the dry puna grassland . Specimens were first collected in the 1960s, but the species was not described as a new until 2012. The entire above ground portion of the plant is less than a half inch tall (1 cm). The flower was named after the race of little people on the island of Lilliput in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.


Lyre Sponge -- Country: NE Pacific Ocean; USA: California
Chondrocladia lyra

A spectacular, large, harp- or lyre-shaped carnivorous sponge discovered in deep water (11,151 feet; 3,399 m) from the northeast Pacific Ocean off the coast of California. The harp-shaped structures or vanes number from two to six and each has more than 20 parallel vertical branches, often capped by an expanded, balloon-like, terminal ball. This unusual form maximizes the surface area of the sponge for contact and capture of plankton prey.

Lesula Monkey -- Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Cercopithecus lomamiensis
This species was discovered in the Lomami Basin of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the lesula is an Old World monkey well known to locals but newly known to science. This is only the second species of monkey discovered in Africa in the past 28 years. Scientists describe the lesula as shy having human like eyes. It is more easily heard than seen by the booming dawn chorus it performs. Adult males have a large bare patch of skin on the buttocks, testicles, and perineum that is brilliant blue in color. Although the area where it occurs is remote, the species is hunted for bushmeat and thus its status vulnerable

No to the Mine! Snake -- Country: Panama  
Sibon noalamina
This new species of snail-eating snake has been discovered from highland rain forests of western Panama. The snake is nocturnal and a predator of soft bodied prey including earthworms and amphibian eggs in addition to snails and slugs. This harmless snake defends itself by mimicking the alternating dark and light rings of venomous coral snakes. Mining of ore deposits in the Serrania de Tabasara mountain range where the species is found is degrading and diminishing its habitat. The species name is derived from the Spanish phrase “No a la mina,” or No to the Mine.


World's Smallest Vertebrate -- Country: New Guinea
Paedophryne amanuensis

A new frog was discovered near Amau village in Papua, New Guinea.

It claims the title of smallest living vertebrate from a tiny Southeast
Asian cyprinid fish that captured the record in 2006. The adult frog size,
averaging length of both males and females, is less than a third of an
inch (7.7mm). With few exceptions, this and other ultra-small frogs
have been found in association with moist leaf litter
in tropical wet forests suggesting a unique ecological habitat that

could not exist under drier circumstances.


Endangered Forest -- Country: New Madagascar
Eugenia petrikensis

Eugenia is a large, worldwide genus of woody evergreen trees and

shrubs of the myrtle family that is particularly diverse in South
America, New Caledonia and Madagascar. The new species
E. petrikensis is a shrub growing to around six feet high (2 m) with
emerald green, slightly glossy, foliage and beautiful dense clusters
of small magenta flowers. It is one of seven new
species described from the littoral forest of eastern Madagascar and

is considered to be an endangered species. It is only the latest
evidence of the unique and numerous species found in this specialized
humid forest that grows on sandy substrate near the shoreline.

Lightning Roaches --- Country: Ecuador
Lucihormetica luckae

Luminescence among terrestrial animals is rather rare and best known
among certain groups of beetles — fireflies and certain click beetles in
particular — and cave-inhabiting fungus gnats. Since the first discovery
of a luminescent cockroach in 1999, more than a dozen species have,
pardon the pun, come to light. All are rare and, interestingly, so far
only found in remote areas far from light pollution. The latest addition to
this growing list is L. luckae that may be endangered or possibly already
extinct. It is known from a single specimen collected 70 years ago from
an area recently heavily impacted by the eruption of the Tungurahua

volcano.  The species may be most remarkable because the size and
placement of its lamps suggest that it is using light to mimic toxic
luminescent click beetles.


No Social Butterfly -- Country: Malaysia
Semachrysa jade

In a trend setting collision of science and social media, Hock Ping Guek
photographed a beautiful green lacewing with dark markings at the base
of its wings in a park near Kuala Lumpur and shared his photo on Flickr.
Dr. Shaun Winterton, an entomologist with the California Department
of Food and Agriculture, serendipitously saw the image and
recognized the insect as unusual. When Guek was able to collect a
specimen, it was sent to Dr. Stephen J. Brooks at London’s Natural
History Museum who confirmed its new species status. The three joined
forces preparing a description using Google Docs. In this triumph for
citizen science, talents from around the globe collaborated by new media
in making the discovery. It is named, by the way, for Winterton’s daughter,
Jade, not its color.


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