Top ten newly-discovered species include cartwheeling spider, beautiful slug
Published Thursday, May 21, 2015 1:42PM EDT
This Japanese puffer fish is one of the species that made it to the 2015 top ten species list, chosen by a committee of taxonomists. The animals were chosen out of 18,000 new species discovered this year.
A cartwheeling spider and a beautiful slug.
Those are just two of the top ten species discovered in the past year that a group of scientists chose out of 18,000 newly found species.
The list was made by an international committee of taxonomists from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF). The ESF is the largest college in the United States dedicated solely to studying the environment.
Every year since 2008, the ESF has released a top ten list in May, to coincide with the birthday of 18th-century Swedish botanist, Carolus Linnaeus. He is considered the father of taxonomy, the branch of science that classifies organisms.
Even with 18,000 new species added to their latest list, the group said there are still millions more to find.
"The last vast unexplored frontier on Earth is the biosphere," said ESF president Quentin Wheeler in a statement. "We have only begun to explore the astonishing origin, history and diversity of life."
Bromeliad (Tillandsia religiosa)
This plant may be new to scientists, but not to a few villages in Mexico. The colourful plant is brought out for Christmas altar scenes that celebrate the birth of Christ, its name reflecting its role in the Mexican community. The plant can be found on the cliffs in the northern region of Morelos, Mexico at altitudes of more than 2,100 metres. They produce rose-coloured spikes and flat green leaves between December and March, making them a welcome arrival to the holiday season.
The Puffer Fish (Torquigener albomaculosus)
For 20 years scientists were clueless as to what was creating mysterious circles on the ocean floors of Japan. But after years of observation, they realized it was the dancing puffer fish. The fish creates intricate designs in circles stretching almost two metres across. The circles are actually nests, created by males of the species "swimming and wriggling in the sea-floor sand" to attract a female mate. The ridges and grooves of the nests provide a barrier from ocean currents, protecting eggs.
The Coral Plant (Balanophora coralliformis)
This plant gets its name for its coral-like appearance, with tubes that sprout up from the centre of the plant. The Philippine plant is parasitic, meaning that, because they don't contain chlorophyll for photosynthesis, they must take nutrition from other living plants. When this strange plant was found, it was immediately classified as critically endangered. Only 50 plants have been found in the forests of Mt. Mingan in the Philippines at elevations of more than 1,500 metres.
The Cartwheeling Spider (Cebrennus rechenbergi)
This eight-legged wonder from the barren sand-dunes of Morocco has a hard time finding a hiding spot from predators. But the arachnid has come up with the perfect last-ditch effort to escape from danger. If running doesn't work, it cartwheels away at twice the speed.
The X-Phyla (Dendrogramma enigmatica)
Found in the depths of the ocean floor off Australia, these mushroom-like creatures are still a mystery for scientists. The latest research suggests they're related to creatures such as jellyfish, corals, sea anemones, comb jellies or hydras, but it could also be a unique animal. More research is needed on these animals that are only eight-millimetres tall.
The Bone-house Wasp (Deuteragenia ossarium)
This mother will do anything to feed and protect its young, even at the expense of others in the animal kingdom. The wasps of Eastern China create nests in hollow stems, making separate cells for each of their babies. After they're born, the wasp kills a spider for her developing young to feed on. Once the nest is full of babies and food, the wasp creates a barrier to her nest out of the bodies of dead ants. The smell of the dead ants puts off any enemies that may be looking for the larvae. This wasp is the first animal known to take this approach of protecting their young with carcasses.
Indonesian Frog (Limnonectes larvaepartus)
This frog may look similar to other fanged frogs, but it starts its life in an entirely different way. While most frog species frogs lay fertilized eggs, and a handful have internal fertilization, thistype of frog does it differently. The Indonesian marvel gives birth to tadpoles in pools of water, the only frog to do so out of the world's 6,455 frog species.
The Walking Stick (Phryganistria tamdaoensis)
This species is the newest to join the family of stick insects. Named after Vietnam’s Tam Dao National Park, where it was found, this walking stick insect is a master of camouflage.
The Feathered Dinosaur (Anzu wyliei)
The Anzu wyliei is named after the feathered demon from Mesopotamian mythology, and often referred to as the "chicken from hell." The dinosaur has many bird-like features, including feathers, hollow bones and a parrot-like beak. But this dinosaur is bigger than any bird seen today. Well-preserved partial skeletons discovered in North and South Dakota in March, 2014, show it stood a metre high, was three metres in length and could weigh nearly 300 kg.
The Sea Slug (Phyllodesmium acanthorhinum)
The beauty of a slug isn't usually found on its list of qualities, but this one warrants the reaction. The Japanese slug can be seen in shades of blue, red and gold. Growing to approximatelythree-centimetres in length, the ESF is calling it the missing link between sea slugs that feed on hydroids, and those that feed on corals.