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New species galore in discoveries around the world


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Kinyongia magomberaeI usually write about species that we’re about to see for the last time, but the past few weeks have brought news of literally hundreds of newly discovered species. Some of these may not be around for long, though, so here are some introductions while they can still be made:

•    The ongoing Census of Marine Life has uncovered thousands of new species existing so far beneath the surface of the sea that they have never seen the light of day. Included on the list so far are 40 new species of coral, a large squid, and a family of “yeti crabs”. Scientific American has a slide show of some of these critters here.

•    A chameleon dubbed Kinyongia magomberae has been discovered in the forests of Tanzania. Discovered by Andrew Marshall of the University of York in England, he was lucky to find it: A snake was in the process of eating the novel creature but dropped it after being startled by Marshall’s presence. Since the discovery, only three more specimens have been found.

•    A spiny eel called Mastacembelus reygeli has been found in Lake Tanganyika in Africa. The new species had previously been confused with another eel with a similar morphology.

•    A tiny new fish has been discovered in the drainage areas of the Brahmaputra River in India. Transparent and just 16 millimeters (0.63 inch) long, Danionella priapus was only determined to be a new species by close examination of its genitalia.

•    Six new sea slug species have been discovered, five in Spain and one in Cuba, part of an ongoing inventory of sea slugs that has so far uncovered 54 new species.

•    Two new catfish have recently been discovered: a bagrid catfish (Tachysurus spilotus) located in Vietnam, and a whale catfish (Cetopsidium soniae) found off the Takutu River in southwestern Guyana.

•    Also in Guyana, a lungless, legless, wormlike amphibian has been discovered and named Caecilita iwokramae.

•    “The Crocodile Hunter,” Steve Irwin, lives on in the names of species named after him and his mannerisms. The latest, Crikey steveirwini, is a rare tree snail discovered in Queensland, Australia, where it has so far only been found in three locations.

•    Eight new species of Hyposmocoma moths have been discovered on three remote Hawaiian islands.

•    Finally, two new species of custard apple (Miliusa wayanadica and M. gokhalae) and a new orchid (Oberonia swaminathanii) were recently discovered in Puthurvayal, India, along with two other plant species (Eugenia argentea and Hedyotis wyanadensis) that have not been seen in 130 years and had long been considered “possibly extinct”.
Image: A newly discovered species of chameleon () lives in Tanzania. Credit: Andrew Marshall, African Journal of Herpetology.





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  1. 1. Richieo 9:46 am 11/25/2009

    The Catalogue will no doubt be a testimonial to our inability to control ourselves and live in harmony, small consolation for our descendants….

    Link to this
  2. 2. craigbrown 10:52 am 11/25/2009

    Good news, evidence that we don’t need conservation to have a broad range of species; more will always crop up

    Link to this
  3. 3. jtdwyer 1:39 pm 11/25/2009

    Does the discovery of a new species automatically qualify it for the endangered species list? Maybe we should just let sleeping dogs lie…

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  4. 4. Aphorist 2:45 pm 11/25/2009

    What constitutes a species? E.g. can one find a new species of finch, or is finch a species of bird and the new discovery just a variation on the theme or species ‘finch?’

    Link to this
  5. 5. Grasshopper1 8:22 pm 12/16/2009

    How can you tell if a new discovery is a new species, a new genus, a new family, etc.
    Do scientists look at the gene structure, or is it the physical differences of the discovery?

    Link to this

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